Forever Mine
review by Gregory Avery, 17 November 2000

In Forever Mine, Paul Schrader's latest film, Joseph Fiennes plays Alan, who, in 1973, is a university student working as a cabana boy at a posh Miami beachfront hotel. There, he meets Ella (Gretchen Mol), the beautiful wife of Mark (Ray Liotta), an aspiring politician, and he becomes immediately and totally besotted with her. They were fated to meet. After the inevitable Steamy Encounter or two, Alan confronts Mark with the news: not only are he and Ella meant to be together, it is their "purpose". Mark, the outraged husband, doesn't see it that way, and puts a stop to things.

Jump forward fourteen years, and Alan reemerges with a new face (reconstructed, after a horrible mishap), a new identity (a wealthy entrepreneur with contacts in both Central America and the U.S.), and a request to help the unwitting Mark, now a New York City councilman, avert political scandal.

The picture (which was completed in 1999, and is having its U.S. premiere on the "Starz" channel this month) has been likened to having antecedents in film noir, but it's actually closer to Frederich Durrenmatt's dark, European story, "The Visit", where a wealthy woman returns to the village that cast her out when she was young in order to use her money and power to settle some scores. The second part of Forever Mine starts out promisingly, but it would have been better if the first half worked. Fiennes and Mol have no chemistry together on-screen, and they don't fare so well on their own, either. Fiennes gives one of the most amorphous lead performances I can recall seeing in any recent film, and that's when you can understand what he's saying. He affects a Latino accent for his new identity, but he's so soft-spoken beforehand that you can't tell where his character comes from or how he sounded to begin with. Mol is sweet-looking, but she falls way short of coming across as either a four-alarm object of desire (no matter how much the filmmakers make her up or light her to look like Lana Turner), or as a woman who's sinking into boredom and desperation because of an ill-suited marriage.

Schrader has written and staged many of the scenes---particularly the ones depicting the reunion of Alan and Ella---very well, with a great feeling towards particular detail and nuance. But he's working with the wrong actors in two of the lead roles, and the film doesn't so much come to an end as simply deflate. Perhaps Schrader himself realized that this film had turned into a write-off, but, considering that he's previously given us two very fine films, Light Sleeper and Affliction (both of which also had trouble finding theatrical distribution), everyone's entitled to make a mistake now and then.

Written and
Directed by:

Paul Schrader

Joseph Fiennes
Gretchen Mol
Vincent Laresca
Ray Liotta




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