Heather Graham, with her enormous blue eyes, long blond hair, and creamy complexion, looks like she comes from the Upper Midwest, which she does, and was brought up on food like corn and peaches and whole milk. She look like a winsome young girl except for her generous bosom, on ample display here. Nobody should kill her, softly or otherwise. She should be cuddled and stroked like a furry little kitten. If nobody else wants to do it, I'll volunteer.
Alas, though, Heather Graham, playing a computer person for a London company, has a problem common to women of this genre. She's living comfortably with a man who loves her but falls for another who carries around with him a cloud of pheromones. She has a lot of company in the role of bored housewife -- Lady Chatterley, Emmanuelle, Anna Karenina, Emma Bovary, and who knows how many others.
Her new lover is Joseph Fiennes. He's mysterious, darkly handsome, needs a shave, wears the smirk of self-confidence, is both a mountain climber and a writer, and makes terrific feral love. What more could any woman ask for? Graham leaves her loving but average boy friend and moves in with Fiennes.
Now, we experienced viewers know very well that when a woman does something like that -- walks out on a dull bulb and marries a symbol of virility that she knows little about -- there's a fly in the ointment somewhere. Fiennes can't be that good. NOBODY can be that good. So it becomes a question, not of whether anything is wrong with him, but exactly WHAT is wrong with him. What secrets is he hiding from her? I certainly don't want to spoil this movie for anyone by giving away the ending, but let me let slip a hint. Fiennes and his sister, Natasha McElhone, are a little too close when judged by the usual norms governing sibling morality, and the death of Fiennes previous wife wasn't exactly as initially presented. She didn't fall off a mountain top. She had her head bashed by a jealous McElhone. Nor is Fiennes exactly the innocent play in these events. He winds up in the slams. I hope that doesn't give away anything.
I bought this DVD mostly to take a dekko of Heather Graham's upper torso. It was gratifying. She's just plain splendid. As an addition -- and unexpected pleasure -- I found the story at times so ridiculous as to be comic. When Graham begins to suspect something is up with Fiennes, she begins to PRY INTO HIS PRIVATE THINGS, what the sociologist Erving Goffman called his information preserve. She's looking for letters or something. She isn't sure what. She doesn't have to KNOW what. It is in the nature of wives to SNOOP, as I know all too well. So, pardon me, so here she is banging a lock off Fiennes private cabinet where he stashes his mountain-climbing gear and frantically scattering papers and ropes and pitons around. Downstairs, the door opens. Fiennes is home earlier than expected. He calls her name. In a frenzy she begins stuffing this crap back into the closet whence it came. The camera meanwhile shows us Fiennes dark boots slowly climbing the steps -- one by agonizing one. The musical theme, which has so far been lush and romantic, now becomes menacing. Upstairs Graham finally gets the closet closed and is about to turn and greet Fiennes as he enters the room except that -- no! -- two or three coils of bright blue mountain-climbing rope now extrude from under the closet door. Caught up in a whirlwind of anxiety she begins trying to stuff the coils back out of sight as those ominous dark boots move step by step down the hallway towards the door, behind which -- But enough of that. I was laughing so hard at that one scene that it made the purchase of the DVD worthwhile, quite aside from Heather Graham's seraphic features or jiggling boobs.
But that's my take on it, and before accepting my judgment of the film you ought to take into account the fact that my taste is perverse. I wasn't worried when Fiennes and Graham are naked on the bed and he wraps a long silk scarf around her neck and begins strangling her. Not a bit. I thought it was a little naughty to half-throttle a gorgeous woman but I wasn't concerned because, at that point, the movie was only two-thirds over, so I knew she'd survive intact.
I'm not really sure a normal viewer could survive this movie intact. There are really only three reasons for watching it. Two of them belong to Heather Graham and the third is the amusement quotient involved in watching any familiar ritual play itself out before us, a point of comfort in a changing and disappointing universe.
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