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Archive for the ‘Lena Olin’ Category

Enemies, A Love Story

05 Mar

Enemies, A Love Story — directed by Paul Mazursky. Drama. A widower who has remarried and taken a mistress finds himself predicamented with the reappearance of his first wife who has not died after all. 119 minutes Color 1989.

★★★★★

I have not seen all Paul Mazursky’s movies. But they all have the ring of truth in them, even such appalling nonsense as Tempest. Do I make myself clear, then, when I say that I have seen enough of them to want to see them all, but nevertheless do not look forward to seeing any more of them because the one at hand here must be his masterpiece. I have three complaints about it. The first is that I do not understand how any of the characters make a living. The second has to do with the fact that the relation of these characters to the concentration camps, which all four characters have survived, never works, never happens; in the novel it probably does. And the last is that Ron Silver is gravely miscast, for he is a cold actor. He would be perfect for Mamet which Mazursky discovered him performing in New York, but not here. Inside him is complete ice. This does not make him a bad actor, for he is a very good actor, even here, and I have always enjoyed him in other parts, playing those ferocious lawyers and intellectuals at which he was so good. Here he has passionate relations with three women, and he relates to each of them sexually and to each as a predicament, but never to any of them as women, as human, not once. You don’t even know that he actually likes women. The story, the script, has to tell us that he cannot make up his mind; it is never revealed in him. He is always on remote. Or rather, since he is not telephoning in his performance, he is always removed. The film achieves its greatness because of all the female actors, which include Judith Malina, Margaret Sophie Stein, Lena Olin and The Great Anjelica Huston, the last two of whom were nominated for Oscars for this film. Huston has the greatest scene in the film; I won’t tell you what it is; you will have no trouble recognizing it once it is before you. Lena Olin brings into being a woman so sexually vibrant she drives men crazy – because she is actually crazy. It is a performance remarkable for its explosiveness and for the unwavering courage of the actor to bring her to us. In her power, talent, and smile, she reminds me of the great Judy Davis.  What first struck me about this piece was how exactly right the director and designer got the period of 1947 over forty years later in 1989. I lived in Queens in the 40s, I knew those dingy apartments, those fire escapes, those laundry-draped streets, the cramped shops with their smells and the sidewalk life, and the God-awful summer heat. I remember Coney Island well from those days. In the extras, Mazursky tells how he did it, and this was fun for me to see. His production designer, Pato Guzman, deserves highest marks for the interiors. They are exactly right. They don’t look like sets. They don’t look like settings. I remember every one of them. They were 1920’s places actually, for none were built during the Depression, of course, and none, of course, during The War. Anyhow the story pinballs the Ron Silver character around between the women, all of whom he can sexually gratify but none of whom he can satisfy by finally choosing. That is the comedy and the tragedy of the Isaac Bashev Singer story and the actresses and the director, the photographer, the editor, and the scorer have made a masterpiece. Is this a recommendation? You choose. Me? – I’ve said enough.

 

 
 
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