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Generally poor acting, but good story with good sets & costumes
Certainly no one would watch this film for its quality acting. Faye Dunaway and Jennifer Beals are the major exceptions. These two ladies deliver prime performances as do a few of the other actors (Karina Huff as an estate serving woman and Claudia Lawrence as Olivia's nurse).
Unfortunately the film centers around Matthew Modine who continually demonstrates he should have sought out another profession than acting. He is supposed to be quite the lady's man here and various actresses do their part to try to make him look that way. But Modine just doesn't have what it takes to carry it off to the audience. Perhaps he will stick to stunts and sword play as he would probably do well at that. But if there is a god, he won't speak another line of dialogue in film.
Ian Bannen plays Modine's father and his part suffers I believe from poor directing. Bannen is an accomplished actor and should have done better, but it appears to me that he was simply directed to make himself appear pure victim rather than take his losses like a man of sterner stuff.
The thing I liked about the film is it's unique story line and the intensity that Faye Dunaway introduces into the story. It's a story of one Francesco Sacredo (Modine) who wagers and loses his rights to his life and livingness to Countess Matilda (Dunaway). On losing the wager Sacredo refuses to abide by the terms of the wager and flees. In his flight he hops in and out of bed with most of the women he meets along the way. The Countess hires men to pursue him and the pursuit of Sacredo becomes a game for the Countess like a cat playing with a mouse. It's this last aspect of the film that makes the film for me, in spite of Modine's and Bannen's acting.
I also liked the sets and costuming. They seemed well done. I give it a 7/10 for Dunaway's and Beal's parts and the story line minus the Modine factor.
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