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Cliff De Young
This hybrid film is after being a Mystery Romance Gothic Horror Thriller Melodrama, not entirely successful throughout in any category but overall an intriguing effort. Based upon the novel, "Always", by Trevor Meldel-Johnsen, the London-set affair features Nigel Terry in a dual role as mid-1980s writer Gregory Thomas, and as an earlier manifestation sharing his soul, Michael Richardson, a mid-1930s ballet choreographer. During the course of a viewing by Gregory and his fiancée Maggie (Jaclyn Smith) in a local theatre of a documentary concerning tragically killed ballerina Brooke Ashley, Gregory is startled by the close resemblance between the two women. After some research, he decides to pen a screenplay of the dancer's life and sudden death by fire, but quickly discovers that the shifting sands of time have obfuscated much that he needs to know. He discovers as well that a substantial portion of his new work appears to exist within his subconscious mind, and that the mystery of reincarnation apparently lies at the root of what becomes for him an uncomfortable search. His delving into the history of Brooke Ashley leads him to contact an old psychic and hypnotist, Olga (Shelley Winters), an intimate of the dancer, and whose home is a shrine to her, and a coalescence of interests occurs between Gregory and the medium. Although Olga guides him to "see" into his prior existence as Richardson, resultant discoveries become rife with a sense of terror and danger. Terry's performance is sensitively crafted, and Claire Bloom, although she is used too sparingly, is also excellent, as the manipulative mother who attempts to end the happiness of the original pair of lovers, while Winters and Smith perform ably. Filmed in London and Paris, with dance footage at the former city's Drury Lane Theatre, the film is the only directorial outing from cinematographer Anthony Richmond and is garnished by the accurate designing of Tony and Joanne Woollard, along with costumes of Marit Allen, each of whom perfectly contrasts the half-century apart eras, and there is a romantic score tendered by Pino Donaggio. The dance scenes are rather shabbily directed and performed, while the script becomes quite incoherent during the film's final portions, but then the original book is, after all, one in which ambiguity is triumphant, and a splendid air of romantic fantasy graces the production.
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