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A two-part film, actually two concurrent stories, that reveals the dissolution of an 18-year marriage from two points of view. The stories are set in Rome, where the wealthy Martin and Jane Reynolds meet by chance after a two-year separation. In the first of the two stories, Martin has returned to Rome on business, representing an African managerial firm. Martin remembers his marriage as a rather sado-masochistic union. Part two examines the marriage from Jane's point of view, focusing more on the family life, on how the children have been scarred by the crumbling marriage. Written by
The Star Appeal Of The Two Leads Comprises The Narrow Range Of Interest Here.
The real-life first marriage of the two stars is nearing its own point of divorce during the creation of this torpid film, the last wherein Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor are teamed, and this provides probably the only reason for watching what is at best an exercise in costly kitsch. Produced by the Welsh National Network, HTV Harlech, the work scripted by John Hopkins was made for television to be seen on consecutive evenings, ostensibly presenting first the standpoint of Burton's character Martin Reynolds and latterly that of Taylor's part - his wife Jane - as their 18 year marriage decomposes. As presented, the two seem to have agreed upon the general causes of the passage of events, as there is little variance between any of the scenes supposedly contemplated separately by the married pair and a lack of posture from the scriptor becomes a fatal flaw for the narrative. A large portion of the picture involves Martin's relationship with his employer, and since this requires continual global travel, marital strain ensues, with this intended ancillary plot regarding his career choice becoming the trunk of the scenario, instead of the union between Martin and Jane. Director Waris Hussein has a less than marvelous assignment in eliciting meaningful performances from Burton and Taylor, disastrously failing at it although Burton's innate intensity gives some life to most of his scenes despite the too often fatuous dialogue around which he seems too weary to ad lib. The excellent Italian actor Gabriele Ferzetti smoothly deals with a pallid part as Jane's latest lover, Carrie Nye emotes outrageously as the "other woman" and Barry Foster does well as Martin's sturdy adjutant, but we are never really shown why the couple's marriage is ending, a point not adequately addressed by scattershot plotting.
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