Hugh Grant’s frightfully English charming-yet-bumbling act is wearing a bit thin. In Nine Months, he plays Sam, who is quite obviously that chap from Four Weddings mysteriously transported to San Francisco. The other strange thing about this film is that Grant’s character is a child psychologist who hates children, which seems a tad unbelievable since nobody who loathes kids as much as he does would choose to work with them. However, these are the only two flaws in Chris Colombus’s latest comedy, and they are vastly outweighed by the good.
Sam and Rebecca (Julianne Moore) have enjoyed ‘five incredible years’ together in a dream home with dream jobs and a dream car. The fact that Sam crashes said car when Rebecca announces she’s pregnant suggests that he’s not too keen on becoming a dad, and this is where their idyllic existence ends. Their problems are considerably exacerbated by the
l gloriously hectic Marty Dwyer (Tom Arnold), his baby machine wife Bail (Joan Cusack) and her brother Sean (Jeff Coldblum), a struggling and opinionated artist.
How this is one film everyone in Britain has been waiting to slate: after all, we applauded Crant so much after Four Weddings, it must be time to knock him back off his pedestal. However, the shock news is that this film is impossible to hate. The superb direction, flawless script and storming performances are infectious. While Arnold explodes onto screen in mad fits of boisterous mayhem, Robin ; Williams steals the show with his injections of farce as the Soviet obstetrician who has only ever . practised on laboratory rats. Even Goldblum is surprisingly good; and, i , okay, so Hugh’s playing himself, but he i does it exceptionally well. Looks like the great British public will have to wait a little longer before they get to lambast him. (Gill Harris)
Nine Months (12) (Chris Colombus, US, i 1995) Hugh Grant, Julianne Moore,
| Tom Arnold. 100 mins. From Fri 20. General release.
Adapted from James Herbert's novel by veteran director Lewis Gilbert. this old
fashioned ghost story benefits from his consummate craftsmanship. but suffers from a lack of atmosphere and
. imagination. Everything is present and
' 'correct. from the creepy old Edwardian
pile where things go bump in the night . to the glimpses ofghostly figures by a moon-lit lake; but Gilbert‘s approach is too straightforward to make the most of some already thin material.
As David Ash. a parapsychologist haunted by the death in childhood of his young sister. Aidan Quinn brings an
added emotional dimension to his role las the professional sceptic whose
rational beliefs are challenged by a Iconlrontation with the spiritual world.
(taunted: 'om fashioned ghost story' iSummoned to Edbrook House by dotty
lllne Months: ‘lmpossible to hate’
i old servant Miss Webb (Anna Massey). ' Ash is drawn into the intrigues ofthe house‘s other three inhabitants: siblings Christina (Kate Beckinsale). Robert (Anthony Andrews) and Simon (Alex
Lowe). Stranded in limbo somewhere
. between the innocence of childhood
and the perversities of adulthood. their
closeness borders on the incestuous.
. Gilbert's sympathetic handling of
l actors is mttch to the fore here: Massey‘s twitchy. unhinged old lady sets the tone for what will follow.
) Paradoxically. as the shocking revelations and sfx kick in with a vengeance. it is Quinn's disintegrating
I professor who holds things together, his
outstanding performance a solid
dramatic axis about which things spin
, wildly out of control. (Nigel Floyd)
i Haunted ( 15) (Lewis (Ii/her]. UK.
I [995) Aidan Quinn. Kate Beekinsale.
Anthony Andrews. [/0 mins. From Fri
27. Limited release.
FOR A lOST SOLDIER
For A Lost Soldier is an elegy to youth and lost love, an elegy composed by ballet choreographer Jeroen Boman (Jeroen Krabbe) and dedicated to his years as a World War II evacuee in rural Holland. Director Boeland Kerbosch’s film is simple and direct, it self-conscious, storytelling which suits its narrative tradition: the coming-of-age drama.
like other films in the tradition, such as the Swedish drama The Slingshot, ForA lost Soldier’s mix of symbolism, nostalgia and cruelty - within a straightforward chronological structure and viewed from a child’s perspective - makes for compelling viewing. One of the staple elements of these films is an awkward, often painful sexual awakening - memorably with a lighted match under a girl’s skirt in The Slingshot- but this is where Kerbosch’s film makes a departure. The young Jeroen’s l (Maarten Smit) sexual awakening comes, unexpectedly, through a
| romance with a Canadian soldier
‘ (Andrew Kelley), one of Holland’s liberators. later in the film, Jeroen’s schoolteacher suggests to his pupil that liberation for the rural community means freedom from their German oppressors, at which point Jeroen makes a hasty exit. For the adolescent, liberation signifies first
This is a tender film, more pleasant than the unrelentineg painful Belgian . Bukowski adaptation, Crazy love.
There are no wicked step-parents, the Canadians don’t cause trouble in the 6 community, and even the Germans are quite nice. Most pleasant of all are middle-aged Jeroen’s conversations ; with his youthful self (the film’s one stylistic flourish, which provides a ‘ framing device for the narrative), l through which the grown man i achieves emotional catharsis. (Miles Fielder) l For A lost Soldier (18) (Roe/and 1 i Kerbosch, Netherlands, 1992) Maarten l Smit, Andrew Kelley, Jeroen Krahbe. l 93 mins. Subtitles. From Fri 20: 5 Edinburgh Filmhouse. From Fri 27: I
Glasgow Film Theatre.
For A Lost Soldier: ‘a tender fllm’
10 on; ron
Newspaper headlines. tabloid scandal. TV reports. talk shows: from the opening images. you wouldn‘t think Gus Van Sant‘s new movie was about the media — it is the media. In order to tell the story. Van Sant uses straight-to-camera interview techniques. hand-held video documentary styles and the traditional dramatised sequences to place the events within the context that created them. Suzanne Stone (Nicole Kidman) is a beautiful. small town girl from the perfect WASP family. whose whole raison d’eire is based around a television career — she's a real believer that it's not worth doing anything worthwhile if no one is watching — and so she starts on the bottom rung. as weather presenter on her local cable station. However. the ambitious Suzanne is married to Italian-American Larry (Matt Dillon). a man who‘s happy in his working-class milieu. This isn‘t the best launching pad for a network slot. so she starts work on her masterwork - a documentary on modern teenagers. There‘s a darker side to her drive. however. as she snares one of her delinquent subjects (Joaquin Phoenix) with her body. convincing him that Larry would be better off dead. The problem'with Van Sant‘s otherwise tragically comic satire is that the ground has been covered before. with Kathleen Turner in Serial Mom and Holly Hunter in The Positively True Adventures OfThe Texas Cheerleader Murdering Mom already personifying the dangerous psychological and sociological effects that a steady diet of TV and fame has had on a generation of Americans. Even an amazingly sustained performance by Nicole Kidman is unlikely to lift this from cult obscurity. especially given the obstacles of far too many specific US television references. (Alan Morrison) To Die For (/5) (Gus Van Sant, US, I995) Nicole K idrnan, Matt Dillon, Joaquin Phoenix. [07 mins: Fro/n Fri 27. General release.
The. List 20 Oct-2 Nov 1995 23