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Several months after returning from a trip to Europe with his wife, a poet has a near-fatal stroke. While he lies in a coma, a colleague presents the poet's wife with a novella the poet had been secretly writing at the time of his accident. The manuscript narrates their European sojourn, and suggests that the poet has been carrying on an affair, by mail, with a woman they both met in Paris. But all is not what it seems. Psychologically, this is fascinating territory, although the often unsignaled time and character shifts will be confusing for those unfamiliar with the brilliant novel on which this film is based. Those who are familiar with the novel will find it interesting to observe the way Scott and Hughes reconfigure the material for a different medium - but it loses a lot of its force because you know the delightful twist from the beginning. Read the novel first. It's magnificent. You'll then find both it and this film more enjoyable.
An experimental feature that crosses over a few genres and through three different narrators during the surreal journey. Interesting enough to make you want to read the book instead! The greatest asset is the technical side that gives it that polish look thanks to the photography, music and editing
Here's one of those movies, Art-house, so delicately handled in it's relationship of story and characters, it becomes quite eerie, and you become more concerned than you should. The delicately handling of story is what really impressed me about this movie, which some people will find boring and turn off. But if you sit it out and give it a chance, it pays off. The acting is A level from everyone, although it was Koman as the envious friend of Milliken (also just superb) who I really took notice of. What else has this actor done? The story is one of betrayal, the partner, Milliken, unforgiving of her sick husband's (Jacobs) infidelity, via a manuscript, his best friend, Koman, a book publisher, possesses. We go back and forth to the catalyst, being the mistress, Jacob's character (a budding writer) becomes infatuated with at a book reading. Later in time, he breaks it off, then falls ill, where guilt has him, and a betrayal is realized, through pages of his writing, where for Milliken, it becomes a detective's puzzle. Although the film scored an R rating, it's only due to a couple of pornographic still images, so you birdwatchers, will be left high and dry. I'm glad I saw this one out, as these are the kind of films that should be appreciated, and warrant viewing from Oz audiences, not just the Art-house movie connoisseurs. Ending is a stinger, one of heartlessness, for one greedy party.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Highly amoral film from Aussie John Hughes reads so much like a piece
of poetry as it takes us through this tale of lurid imaginings and
Poet John A. Scott's script, from his novella of the same name, has several biblical overtones as it examines one man's confused lust for the tempting femmes he sees on a Paris holiday and another man's covetous determination to win his neighbour's wife. Scott cleverly twists the plot to give us different concepts of the same reality, leaving us to fathom the truth.
The principal performers give strong turns, with Martin Jacobs as the deluded husband, Angie Milliken the frustrated, lonely wife and Jacek Koman the scheming 'friend'. Dion Beebe's camera startles and surprises with its early freeze frame images.
But for all its cleverness and intricate plotting, "What I Have Written" boils down to nothing more than a hedonistic film about sexual obsession. Just whose obsession is never quite clear, yet both scripter Scott and director Hughes seem happy to indulge in the hardcore images of deviant sex. Consequently their strong, often accurate character study ( says Sorel to her bed stricken husband - "Jesus was right. You looked on that woman with lust and it was enough.") is almost completely washed out by its gratuitous sexual overtones.
Monday, March 17, 1997 - Hoyts Croydon
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