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January 26, 1993 - Image 5

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1993-01-26

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ARTS

Mal e makes magic of mundane story in 'Damage'

by Michael Thompson
Just when you though it was safe to
goback tothe theater, another good fihn
is released. "Damage" once again dem-
onstrates the rule that the best is saved
for last. But it was worth the wait.
The story revolves around the Dr.
StephenFleming(JeremyIrons),amem-
ber of Parliament, and Anna Barton
(Juliette Binoche), the girlfriend of
Stephen's son. Their attraction is instant
and powerful. The affair between the
Damage
Directed by Louis Malle; written by
David Hare; with Jeremy Irons, Juliette
Binoche and Miranda Richardson.
two of them is intense and, of course,
dangerous. Halfway through the film
one begins to wonder what the greater
.horror will be, will they get caught, or
will they find a way to continue their
affair forever?
Malle handles his subject like an
expert. The story itself is no great
mindbender, and in the wrong hands it
could have been thoroughly wasted (re:
"Body of Evidence"). But Malle treats
all his characters with respect and tries
to look at their situations from a variety
The Girl in
kind of self-aware narration is any indi-
cation of how Europeans really think,
I'll bet there's a lot less of them in
therapy than there are Americans.
It is Tony Leung's extraordinary
performance as The Chinaman which
pulls this film from the quagmire of
textual obscurity. From the first second
he sees The Girl on a ferry crossing into
Saigon, he is in love with her. He flirts
with her, badly, on the ferry (try this
opening line: "How remarkable: a white
girl on a bus!" He's smooth...), but it is
the tremor in his voice and the way his
hands shake when he offers her a ciga-
rette that telegraphs his emotions in a
way that Jane March never seems able
to do as The Girl.

of angles. The question ofright or wrong
becomes increasingly difficult. There
are reasons to hate and like all of the
characters.
The sex scenes in the film demon-
strate how smart Malle is. He lets his
camera linger on the faces of the people.
We don't need to get into the action, we
know whatthey'redoing. Instead, Malle
shows us how these people are reacting
to each other. We're not voyeurs here.
Malle wants us to understand the pas-
sion between these two; he's not trying
to exploit it like so many other directors
would. There is hardly any frontal nu-
dity in the film, butwhen there is, it's not
gratuitous - it's painful.
Jeremy Irons reestablishes himself
as the greatest living actor. What the
man does with his hands most actors
can't do with everything they've got.
No, it's not a sexual thing. Irons lets the
audience believe in his character's bore-
dom, pain, confusion, and guilt. He
portrays how Fleming's relationship
with his whole family is strained. He
seems to havejustrun outof steam with
them. The look Irons gives his living
room conveys, with one expression, the
monotony of his life.
Juliette Binoche is also wonderful
asFleming'sloverand soon tobedaugh-
the French
The Chinaman is the heir to his
opium-addicted father's wealth, so he
doesn't work, he just spends money. As
the narrator says "He was made: for
love. It was like his job, and that's the
way I liked him."
He bears the brunt of colonial rac-
ism. Even though The Girl's family is
dirt-poor and as dysfunctional as they
come, they are considered superior to
him because they're white. Because of
this any "love" between The Girl and
The Chinaman is doomed.
They know it's hopeless so they act
casually, even hurtfully toward each
other when they're not in bed. The
Chinaman accuses The Girl of sleeping
with him for money (indeed, she fanta-

ter-in-law. The first look between her
and Irons is intense, charged and above
all, believable. You don't really expect
an attraction between these two, but
once it gets going you never question
their rapport.
The script is also brilliant in that it
lets the actors act. The strongest scenes
are those with no dialogue and they
come at the right time. The faces of all
of these people contain innocence,
beauty, hate and damage.
When the characters do speak their
words are piercing. "Why didn't you
kill yourself?" asks one character. Malle
and screenwriter Hare let us all wonder,
The only shortcoming of the filni
comes from the MPAA. In forcing Malle
to cut several seconds of his work in
order to avoid the kiss-of-death NC-17
rating, the MPAAproves once againtie
arbitrary and ludicrous nature of their
ratings system.
But the power of "Damage" rises
above the unfortunate rating battlp.
Malle's film gives no answers and thpt
will probably disappoint and anger a
few people. The beauty here, however,
is that this film is trying very hard not to
insult the viewer's intelligence. And it
succeeds.
DAMAGE is playing at Showcase.
'Lover'
sizes about being a prostitute and does
get quite a bit of money from him), and
she returns the insult, saying she never
loved him and "I don't like the Chinese
much, anyway."
"The Lover" is beautifully photo
graphed, no surprise from Annaud ("The
Bear," "Quest For Fire"), but, aside
froma fine turn from Tony Leung, all its
prettiness is on the surface. There's no
real connection made with The Girl,
and in a biographical film, as movies
like "Hoffa" and "Chaplin" have shown
this past year, if the audience doesn't
like the person the film's about, tie
audience doesn't much like the film
THE LOVER is playing at the Ann,
Arbor I & 2.

Jeremy Irons and Juliette Binoche share a private moment among many in the emotionally demanding "Damage.'

It ain't necessarily so
by Jason Carroll
How could the Purple Rose Theatre go wrong with its production of
"Necessities?" The last few shows they put on had such interesting titles as
"Possessed: The Dracula Musical", "The Tropical Pickle" and "More Fun than
Bowling". But, the plot of "Necessities" isn't as simple as the title is.
The play focuses on Zelda Kelly (Marilyn Mays) a rich, yuppie, film
producer. Zelda decides she wants to have a child to fulfill her lacking life and
marriage. The only problem is that she's infertile. After her desperate attempts
to adopt a child fail, she confers with a lawyer who suggests a private adoption.
The rest of the show deals with the moral problems inherent in considering
a private adoption. These are brought forward by three women whom Zelda
questions about adopting their children.
Christina (Karen Kron) was the first. She looked like the type of woman you
might see at a biker rally: not very smart but street wise. After some questioning,
Zelda discovered that Christina's baby is addicted to drugs. Since the child isn't
perfect, Zelda decides that she can't adopt him (Moral dilemma #1).
The second mother, Janine (Cheri Johnson), took Zelda by surprise because
she was African-American. Then, Zelda realized she was racist since she didn't
want an African-American child (Moral dilemma #2).
The third interviewee, Mary (Elizabeth Kaiser) was a sweet, young, southern
girl who actually wanted to keep her newborn, but needed the cash to raise her
other child. Mary's baby was just the type of child Zelda was looking for, but she
didn't know if she should break the maternal bond (Moral dilemma #3).
Zeldaand herhusband Danny (Wayne David Parker) were probably the worst
actors in the show. Part of the blame
IF M Cmust fall on the director for not catch-
Necessities ing several obvious flaws. Forexample,
Purple Rose Theatre the couple is supposed to be pre~ten-
January 22, 1992 tious, but the opening scene had Zelda
leaping on her bed, crossing her legs,
and picking her toenails. Later in the play, Zelda sits on the floor and lies across
the chairs. I don't know of any yuppies who act like this in the company of others.
The best acting talent was displayed by two of the mothers. Karon Kron was
believable as the tattooed, drug addict Christina. Elizabeth Kaiser was superb as
the down home, innocent Mary. Her sincerity reflected her naive dialogue.
The plot of "Necessities," while strong, faltered most when trying to work
Zelda's husband into the story. Initially, Danny didn't want to get a child and he
got into a fight with Zelda about it. Danny's resistance was evident in the delivery
of his lines, which had as much passion as acashier at Burger King. Surprisingly,
he returned in the final act with almost no opposition to the idea of adopting and
even helped Zelda interview the last woman.
The set design successfully illustrated the couple's affluent lifestyle. The
Phoenix hotel room the couple occupied was done in an American Indian style,
complete with Indian sandpaintingsadorning the floor. In addition, theroom was
equipped with a fax machine and computer. In contrast, an abstract mountain
landscape with two dead trees lined one wall of the room.
Zelda had many things in her life: money, love and a successful career. But
she wasn't happy with what she had. This can be summed up in one of Mary's
lines, "You rich people are weird ... if you've got 1,000 things you want 1,001."

Boy meets
by Chris Lepley
There was so much controversy
surrounding the American release of
Jean-Jacques Annaud's film "The
Lover" that it was as though we had
travelled back to the days when foreign
art-films played to packed houses in
college towns eager to watch the sex.
"The Lover," adapted from Mar-
guerite Duras' novel, tells of a young
The Lover
directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud;
adapted from the novel by Marguerite
Duras; with Jane March & Tony Leung.
girl living in French Indochina in 1929
who becomes sexually involved with a
wealthy Chinese aristocrat who is more
than twice her age. This generation-gap
and an explicit depiction of the girl's
sexual awakening seems to be the rat-
ings board's biggest objection to the
film, but it is the lack of emotion in the
portrayal of the main character that is
the biggest problem with "The Lover."
Jane March plays "The Girl" (none
of the characters in the film has a name)
and while she looks perfect for the part,
she delivers every line in the same emo-
tionless way. Itmightnot be completely
March's fault, however, because the
script leaves all of the really meaty lines
to a truly annoying voice-over.
The Girl, grown up and fulfilling her
dream to be a writer, narrates the film
from beginning to end (the voice is
supplied by Jeanne Moreau) and this
convention proves to be the worst mis-
take made by the filmmakers. For ex-
ample, The Girl always wears a man's
hat. Just when you're sitting in the audi-
encemusing "whatacool hat" the voice-
over kicks in and describes the socio-
political ramifications of the hat, and
how "that hat always made me feel
complete" or something like that. If that

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Minority Career ConferenCe - lhesday, January 26, 1993
6:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Ballroom/Michigan Union
State Department representatives will have internship and career information
Information Session - Wednesday, January 27- 11:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
(walk in)
Wolverine Room, Michigan Union
Presentation on Foreign Service Careers including video and internship
opportunities.
Calvin Mitchell, Foreign Service Officer
Charlotte Read, Recruiter
Who Should Come? All students are welcome -- Freshmen through Graduate
Students. All majors.

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Put your heart on the line or

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Put your heart on the line or
two or three...
Send a

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Learn About:

State Department Internshis

Foreign Service Officer - Foreign Service Examination

.

Valentine

'S

Day

message
through
Classified Department.

Foreign Service Specialist Positions
Foreign Affairs Fellowship Program

An Equal Opportunity Employer

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