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Movie Review: The Man From Elysian Fields

Story: This film came very close to being a fine film, but sadly, missed the mark. Any story with a Faustian theme holds universal appeal. What would you be willing to do to support your family, to achieve fame or to have fortune? Probably becoming part of a male escort service is not high on your list (although I could be wrong).

And that is the story in a nutshell. A struggling young author with a lovely wife and young child succumbs to this type of tradeoff - and as quickly as you can say 'the devil made me do it,' trouble ensues.

What was right with the film? It is handsomely shot, with very attractive people and beautiful locations (my pals who live near Pasadena are going to love the details on this film). The dialog, with a script by Philip Jayson Lasker, is terrific. Director George Hickenlooper does a fine job with this terrific cast. It is about a fall from grace and eventual redemption. (Elysian Fields is a refuge for the virtuous, in Hades, from Virgil's, Aeneid).

So what was wrong you ask? The story is too improbable even for me to suspend my beliefs. But more than that, I hated the cop-out ending. This interesting, quirky film simply ends with a THUD!

Acting: Mick Jagger is delicious as the owner of the escort service. It is worth seeing the film just to enjoy his performance and to see him in a suit. Andy Garcia, works well as the weak author, but has done this role before in When a Man Loves a Woman. James Coburn is robust and still handsome. Olivia Williams, as the one who is escorted, was adequate, but I was unimpressed. The beautiful Julianna Margulies (E.R.), as the wife, plays a role that is too one dimensional and Angelica Huston has a small, but juicy role as Jagger's woman friend.

Critters: I can't say I remember any critters. Definitely a shortcoming in the casting arena.

Food: Lots of talk of pasta primavera, eggs, a breakfast bonanza that would give Denny's a run for it's money, and lots of booze and cigarettes.

Visual Art: Pretty good reproductions of some very famous paintings both classical and modern.

Blatant Product Placement: Pampers and Starbucks.

Soundtrack: Unassuming and appropriate.

Opening Titles: None.

Theater Audience: Surprisingly crowded with some very annoying talkers. I had to do some shoosh-ing.

Sappy Factor: 2

Quirky Meter: 4 (anything with Mick Jagger automatically gets a four in this category.)

Predictability Level: High, when I realized it was going Hollywood on me. Grr!

Oscar Worthy: No

Nit Picking: Why oh why does Hollywood listen to test audiences. Just stick with your original intentions. They are usually correct.

Big Screen or Rental: Big Screen, just for the fun of it. How about renting some of Garcia's other films: Ocean's Eleven, The Disappearance of Garcia Lorca, Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead, When a Man Loves a Woman Hero, Dead Again, Internal Affairs, Godfather, Part III, Black Rain, Stand And Deliver, The Untouchables and Mean Season.

Length: 105 Minutes.