THRILLER ENIGMA (15) 117 mins .00.

Relatively faithful, rather good screen adaptation

Films are usually either far better (see The Godfather) or far. far worse (see almost anything else) than the books they're based on. Michael Apted's screen adar.)tation of Robert Harris's best-selling novel Enigma is. rarely enough. both relatively faithful and rather good.

Scriptwriter Torn Steppard increases the love interest and fiddles the plot a little. but the mixture of cynicism and heroism that characterised Harris's characters is undiluted in the film. Torn Jericho (a grouchy-looking Dougray Scotti. a crack WWII codebreaker. is called back from premature retirement to break the Nazis new cypher. On his return. he discovers that Claire (Saffron Burrowsi. the woman who broke his heart. has gone missing and. with the aid of her housemate (a l_)espectacled Kate Winslettr. begins to discover that she was not entirely what she seemed.

Apted succeeds in making codebreaking seem dramatic. iuxtaposing the frantic calculations of Jericho and his colleagues in their freezing hut in Bletchley Park with scenes of battle on the roaring. deadly high seas. And the two strands of the movie - the code-cracking part. with the German cyphc-r machine as its Enigma. and the mystery-cum-romance. wrth Claire as its enrgrna - work remarkably well together. The only weak part of this movie comes in the rather redundant chase sequence that announces its close.

Such flaws aside. this is an engrossing film that effectively evokes the trials of those trapped behind friendly lines. And unlike Pearl Harbour. which screamed 'Epicf' from every frame and ended up looking like an almighty mess. Enigma keeps its drama understated. and is all the better for it. (James Smarti I General release from Fri 28 Sep. See feature. pages 22-23.

WOMEN TALKING DIRTY (15) 97 mins 0.

Don't be misled by the title: this isn't a provocative expose of phone-sex workers. but a pedestrian ‘female friendship' comedy. which has been awaiting release for a couple of years. Ellen (Gina lvcheei is a shy cartoonist. who marries a charming yet duplicrtous compulsive gambler (James Purefoy). Cora (Helena Bonharn Carter) is her extrovert best pal. who winds up as a single mother after being dumped by her French boyfriend. Several years later. at Ellen's post-divorce party. Cora shocks her host by revealing the identity of her second child's father . . . ExectHive-producerl by Elton John. director Coky Giedroyc's follow-up to Stella Does Tricks is precisely the sort of insubstantial and unambitious work which gives British cinema a bad name. Bonham Carter. straining for guirkiness. is wholly miscast as a Scottish single mother. there are a host of predictably ‘colourful' supporting characters (including Richard Wilson and Kenneth Cranham's long-term gay couple. and Eileen Atkins’s acerbic neighbouri. and Isla l)e‘.'.rar's script

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Pedestrian comedy

(based on her own noveli awkwardly attempts to mix naturalistic drama with sitcom-humour. At least cinematograi)her Brian Tufano photographs Edinl‘xirgh and its surrounding countryside with crisp efficiency. whilst McKee plays the dreamily introverted Ellen wrth sensitive restraint. (Tom Dawsonr

I General release from Hi 28 Sep.



A.|. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (12) 144 mins .00

Stanley Kubrick spent years planning Artificral Intelligence. inspired by a Brian Aldiss short stOry. Super-Toys Last All Summer Long'. On his death. the project was bequeathed to Steven Spielberg. Together they have created a future world where the human body is completely commoditied. Forget cyborgs the robots in this film are pure artificial intelligence. They don't eat or sleep. But they do look like flesh and blood. and they know how to simulate emotional reactions. The question is. can they be programmed to fall in love?

But Meccas (the nick-name derives from their mechanical non-organic construction) are not having it good. A popular movement is proclaiming the beauty of natural and authentic humanity: they scour the country for untagged or broken robots. torturing and humiliating them in public Flesh Fairs.

Perhaps it is the immense difference between the two filmmakers' approach that makes this film such a tOrturous two hours. as you are tugged between two extremes: Kubrickian cool and Spielbergian sentimentality. At times the sentimental story of a robot boy who only wants to be loved is emotionally affecting. But then you can't believe yOu have been affected by such sticky emotional gunk.

The world had high expectations of Haley Joel Osment. after his i_)erformanC(~) in The Sixth Sense. The kid doesn't disappoint. and Jude Law is great as the charming Gigolo Joe. but their endless Quest for Pinocchio's fairy (this is. after all. a tale Uncle Walt would be proud to give his seal of approval) is tiresome to say the least. And although the science fiction ideas are interesting. they are hardly profound. This film is too long. and when the stereotypical Spielberg soppy ending finally appears. it makes you want to chuck. (Heather Walrnsleyi I General release from Fri 27 Sep. See feature. pages 70- l .7.

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