FILM new releases

Inventing The Abbotts

(15) 106 mins *‘k‘k

It's 1957, and the grandest family in Haley, Illinois, are the Abbotts, with their three beautiful daughters. Alice (Joanna Going) is in the middle of a shotgun engagement to a steel fortune heir; Eleanor (Jennifer Connelly) is as alluring as she is free with her sexual favours; and Pam (Liv Tyler) is a gangly fifteen-year-old.

Caught up in their lives are the two Holt boys. Jacey (Billy Crudup) is getting back at Mr Abbott for misunderstood events in the past by sleeping with Eleanor, while younger brother Doug (Joaquin Phoenix) tries to leave well alone, despite an unspoken empathy with Pam.

Circle Of Friends director Pat O'Connor's solid drama spices up its three-year tale by setting it during a sea-change in society. Amid an impressive, lived-in period setting, the film touches on the workings of small-town hypocrisy, the stifling money-based class system and the downtrodden social position of women. It's mainly interested, however, in how the five youngsters, there at the birth of the 'teenager', deal with the expectations and pressures of an older generation.

With a nod in the direction of obvious forebears, such as Rebel

Without A Cause, the movie benefits from a 905 candidness. The kids talk and have sex, as they always did in reality, while the brooding Doug displays shades of James Dean in his manner but has wider options to follow. Jacey is more the blinkered firebrand, taking his revenge on Mr Abbott but becoming more like him in

the process.

Both Phoenix (developing nicely from his turn in To Die For) and Crudup are excellent in the main roles, as is the dependable Kathy Baker as their mother. Liv Tyler, however, is less assured. She suits the self-conscious,

Look of love: Liv Tyler and Joaquin Ph oenix in Inventing The Abbots


dressed-up girl we see in the initial exchanges but, as Phoenix goes deeper into his emotions, she flits about on the fringes, never forcing the audience to feel for her

It’s the failure of this central pairing that lets the film down. As the drama drifts into teen romance territory, it

loses its grip a couple of awkward plot contrivances


Climb every mountain: Brad Pitt in Seven Years In Tibet

Seven Years In Tibet

(15) 131 mins are

It did always sound like a bit of a duff combination. Brad Pitt on a spiritual journey? A very unlikely story, you’d be quite entitled to think, and a tall order even for Jean-Jacques Annaud, the maverick Frenchman who adapted Umberto Eco's The Name Of The Rose and once made a thriller With a cast of bears. On this occasion, he probably wasn't allowed to poke Brad Pitt With a stick, but it must have been frustrating

28 ENE lIST 21 Nov-4 Dec 1997

for the director seeing fascinating material and an impresswe production utterly sabotaged by a complete non- performance.

Sporting Hitler Youth peroxide and sp0uting suitably strangled vowels, Pitt is ace climber Heinrich Harrer, who leaves Wife, unborn Child and l939 Austria so he can go off and take a crack at a treacherous, unclimbed Himalayan peak The mission brings major ego clashes between Harrer and nominal leader Peter Aufshnaiter

and an embarrassing Waltons-style voiceover from Phoenix almost destroy the goodwill which O'Connor builds in the preceding hour and a half. (Simon Wardell) a General release from Fri 27 Nov

(jobbing Dawd Thewlis), and an unexpected culmination when the British authorities in the area make the men statutory prisoners of war.

Eluding the Brits by way of a daring escape, Pitt and Thewlis’s subsequent trek across the Tibetan border brings them closer to the real nub of the drama. As very rare European Visitors to this mystery-shrouded religious enclave, they are priVileged indeed, and Pitt is unexpectedly taken on by the young Dalai Lama himself to provrde a sWIft education in the ways of Western culture.

Annaud gives us enough of the sights and sounds of Tibet to conVince us that this is indeed a .special place, and certainly worth savrng from the invading communist Chinese. Yet the dramatic structure seems to imply that it's all a mere backdrop to one man's path out of self-absorbed arrogance towards enlightened humanity, a dubious proposition made even less persuasive by the fact that the one man in question is wooden old Brad He seems to have very little purchase on the material, and we're left With fabulous landscapes in search of a inoVie Pity (John Lynas)

a General release from Fri 27 Nov.

One Night Stand

(18) 102 mins *‘kirf

A single noctural liaison between two happily married people is the trigger for this original romantic comedy by Leaving Las Vegas director Mike Figgis.

When marketing executive Max (Wesley Snipes) goes to New York to visit his sick best buddy Charlie (Robert Downey Jnr), he misses his return flight home. Forced to remain in the city an extra night, he seeks out Karen (Nastassja Kinski), an attractive and cultured woman staying in the same hotel, and ends up having sex with her.

On returning to his wife, Mimi (Ming- Na Wen), Max is suddenly disenamoured With his life, and realises that he may have bitten off more of the Big Apple than he can chew. Only when beckoned back to New York by Charlie‘s imminent death from AIDS, does he address the extent of his general dissatisfaction, and when an introduction to Charlie's sister-in-law forces him to reunite with his one- night stand Karen, Max is nudged into thinking seriously about what he wants.

Flecked with unexpected twists and turns, the plot of One Night Stand is embroidered heavily with sympathy for the lead character. Although the performances of Downey and Ming-Na Wen in particular are moving and strong, it is Max with whom we feel most intimate. His amusing introductory soliloquy is reinforced by Figgis’s highly tuned cinematic techniques. Significant camera shots zoom in on particular facial expressions and telling body language, while an active camera choreographs the ever- changing mood and atmosphere.

Most impressive of all, however, is Figgis’s use of sound in the movie to underpin emotion. While the jazz to clasSical soundtrack asserts a selection of calming auras, a clever collage of noisy sonic effects from car horns to unintelligible chatter evokes frustration and anxiety.

Whether this is a romantic story of fated coincidence or a moral tale about the consequences of infidelity, One Night Stand is an emotional rollercoaster ride, brought to life by its distinctive directorial style.

(Beth Williams) a Glasgow Film Theatre and Edinburgh Fi/mhouse from Fri 28 Nov.

Brief encounter: Nastassja Kinski and Wesley Snipes in One Night Stand