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Two stories, 14 years apart, converge in a suburb of New York. Manuel Esquema, an international financier, whose face is badly scarred, is flying from Miami to help a New York politician negotiate a plea bargain with the Justice Department. Years before, this financier was a fresh-faced cabaña boy at a Miami Beach resort who fell in love with a young woman on holiday with her husband. The husband is now the pol, and he thinks he dispatched the cabaña boy long ago. What are Esquema's plans: revenge, mercy, or a complicated plan to seek again the woman's love? Written by
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In my opinion, Paull Schrader is one of the most under-appreciated Masters of American Cinema. From "Hardcore" to "Patty Hearst", Schrader's films often focus on "the dark side of sexuality", and have an aura about them that draws you in and encompasses you as a viewer.
His 1999 film, "Forever Mine" is an intense Romantic Thriller about forbidden love and revenge.
Joseph Fiennes plays Alan Riply, a young American working as a Cabana Boy at a high end resort in Cuba. One day, while doing his duties, he comes across a beautiful young woman named Ella Brice (Gretchen Mol), falling instantly in love with her. Unable to overcome his infatuation, he obsessively pursues her despite the fact she is on vacation with her husband Mark (Ray Liotta)- a powerful, but corrupt, Federal Prosecutor who is more concerned about doing business than he is paying attention to his young and beautiful wife.
One evening, while Mark is preoccupied with a business meeting, Alan leaps on his oppourtunity to charm and seduce the stunning Ella. Having voyeured her dancing at a club, he waits outside her room as a way to manufacture a happenstance meeting. Having her alone, Alan confesses his overwhelming feelings for her and bequests her to run away with him on a romantic getaway into the city.
As the sexual tension grows, Alan is able to convince Ella to take him up on his offer, and spend a day with him while her husband is on a business cruise. The two lovers run away together into the city, and the encounter culminates with a night of unmatched eroticism and passion.
When Ella's trip nears an end, she tries to end the fling and break ties with Alan, explaining it was just "part of the moment". But before they part ways, she tells him how she married her husband for convenience and security as opposed to love, and that, where as their love is True...it would be impossible for their relationship to work in her situation.
Lovesick and Obsessed, Alan quits his job at the resort and moves to Miami...where he tracks down and forms an adulterous relationship with the woman he has fallen head over heels for.
Overcome by Catholic Guilt, Ella bares all in confessional, where she is convinced to reveal her transgressions to her husband. When Mark discovers the truth about Alan and his relationship with Ella, he decides to take matters into his own hands...and run the Cabana boy out of his city and get him out of his life.
Exploiting his position as a public prosecutor, Mark has Alan arrested and thrown in jail on trumped up charges. But when Mark intercepts a correspondence between Alan and Ella, sent from jail...he snaps, and decides that much more drastic measures must be taken.
Having arranged for a couple of prisoners to escape with and hand over Alan during a botched prison transfer, Mark takes matters into his own hands. He blasts Alan in the face with a shotgun and leaves him for dead.
But unbeknownst to Mark, Alan miraculously survives the ordeal...and is hell bent on revenge.
Suffering from a deforming facial injury, Alan decides to have plastic surgery and adopt an entirely new identity. He becomes Manuel Esquema, a cutthroat Cuban gangster and businessman- partnering up with an old friend from the resort.
Having established a name and reputation for Manuel, Alan's grand scheme comes to fruition when Mark- now living in NY- employs his help to try and stave off an investigation into corruption and money laundering that he was involved with when he was a prosecutor.
As it is evident that both Ella and Mark are becoming paranoid about the true intentions and motives of Senor Esquema- the cuts get faster (well, other than the intimate moments...those moments we tend to look back and dwell on) as the story spirals toward it's ultimate conclusion.
Who will survive this burdened love triangle? Will they discover Alan's true identity? Will love triumph with a picture perfect happy ending? Or will this end as one of those tragic love stories? Definitely worth a watch to find out!!!
The first half of the movie is narrated from the perspective of Alan (as Manuel), as he and his partner are traveling by plane from Miami to New York. We discover the backstory through the introspective recollections on which Alan ponders during the plane ride- triggered by memory cues like the rosary, conversation with the little girl etc. The moments between Alan and Ella are shot with that old-style MGM glow which definitely adds to the romantic atmosphere of the film.
In the second half of the film we find ourselves following Alan (as Manuel) as he begets his plan into action. During this segment of the film, Schrader continues to provide us with glimpses into the memory of Alan, by showing us a number of flashbacks- clearly being brought on by the presence of Mark and Ella- which reinforce his love for her and the revenge he seeks over him.
Shot beautifully, this is a well written and intriguing romantic thriller by an awesome director. Great movie to watch with your chick (or if you're a chick). 8 out of 10.
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