In 1931 Paris, Anais Nin meets Henry Miller and his wife June. Intrigued by them both, she begins expanding her sexual horizons with her husband Hugo as well as with Henry and others. June ...
See full summary »
Vatel is in charge of the reception to the king Louis XIV. With the prince's political ambitions at stake, its essential to please him. But when he falls in love with the king's lover, passion and duty seem to contradict each other.
A failed London musician meets once a week with a woman for a series of intense sexual encounters to get away from the realities of life. But when he begins inquiring about her, it puts their relationship at risk.
In 1931 Paris, Anais Nin meets Henry Miller and his wife June. Intrigued by them both, she begins expanding her sexual horizons with her husband Hugo as well as with Henry and others. June shuttles between Paris and New York trying to find acting jobs while Henry works on his first major work, "Tropic of Cancer," a pseudo-biography of June. Anais and Hugo help finance the book, but June is displeased with Henry's portrayal of her, and Anais and Henry have many arguments about their styles of writing on a backdrop of a Bohemian lifestyle in Paris.Written by
Ed Sutton <email@example.com>
Why is it that movies that are groundbreaking and controversial because of their prurient content are almost always never really great films to begin with? "Deep Throat" (1972) was the very first hardcore porn film that modern-day audiences went to see in droves, yet it was not a good movie, and was far from erotic or sexy. "Fritz The Cat" (1972) was the first animated motion picture to be rated X, yet it was a series of vignettes with a character who was really a jerk. With its shock value, it was underwhelming at best.
"Henry & June" does not sound like a controversial movie, but it made movie history when it became the first mainstream motion picture to earn the NC-17 rating by the Motion Picture Association of America. That rating was the permanent replacement for the X rating to differentiate explicit mainstream films from pornographic films in the eyes of moviegoers. While it's easy to see why the movie got an NC-17 rating, it's not a very good movie otherwise overall.
"Henry & June" is based on a true story that was brought to the public's attention from diaries written by Anais (pronounced en-NIGH-eese) Nin. Nin is portrayed by Maria de Medeiros, who is the best actor in this film by far, and really saves it from being a forgettable mess. In fact, the film centers so much on Medeiros' character that you sometimes wonder as you're watching this film "What's so great about Henry & June? Why wasn't the film called "Anais"?"
Well, Henry is Henry Miller (Fred Ward), an American author who resides in Paris, France to complete a book he wants to title "Tropic of Cancer". He finishes the novel, but it becomes one of the most controversial books of the 20th century. More on that later.
June (Uma Thurman) is Henry's wife who feels more like an on-again, off-again girlfriend. She is an actress who is also from the United States. She's married to Henry, but they fight, and she travels back to the U.S. This happens about three times in the film.
Thurman is a very good actress who was great in "Dangerous Liasons" (1988) and later in "Pulp Fiction". Here, her acting felt stiff and forced, not only with her bad New York accent which sounded like a horrible impression of Mae West. I just really wasn't convinced when she fought with Ward on screen. I detected no emotion of any kind when she was supposed to be emotional, and you could almost see the traces of glycerin when she was supposed to cry.
Another person who acted pretty badly here was Richard E. Grant, who played Anais' husband Hugo Guiler. It seemed like Grant's main role in this film was to criticize Anais for not coming to social functions, and to turn the other eye when Anais had affairs with both Henry and June. Maybe that was the point of his role, but Grant was not even the slightest bit convincing. Every line he spoke sounded as if he was reading it from a cue card.
So this film is about decaying marriages in the midst of Paris and a social circle of struggling writers, and was very reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway's "The Sun Also Rises" in many respects. So why did it deserve the NC-17 rating?
My opinion is that it didn't, and it seemed as though the filmmakers threw in prostitutes and nudity in an attempt to purposefully go beyond the R-rating. Even then, I thought the sex scenes, especially the ones with prostitutes, didn't contribute well to the story at all. As I watched these scenes progress, I couldn't help but think, "What does this have to do with anything!?!?!" Such prolonged sex scenes weighed the story down and slowed the film's pace to a dull crawl.
Because of its rating, "Henry & June" made movie history, but the film spent two hours and seventeen minutes telling a story that could have been told in an hour and fifteen minutes. While Medeiros and Ward acted well in their parts, Thurman and Grant were noticeably weak. The provocative scenes this movie provided may have been erotic, but often times felt unnecessary to the plot. It's too bad also, because the movie's rating gives this film a significance that it really never deserved.
11 of 13 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this