The inner life of Martin Frost reeks of misogyny, and the film that enshrines his egomania makes half-assed aspirations to Goethe. Martin (David Thewlis) borrows an empty country house from his friends, seeking to reward himself for the years he spent writing his latest novel, but his peace and quiet is interrupted one morning by a woman lying in his bed. She says her name is Claire (Irène Jacob), niece of one of the house’s owners, but after Martin receives a phone call from his friends, he learns that she isn’t who she claims. Because of love—or is it because of the sex she gives him?—Martin doesn’t exactly press Claire for her true identity, but for the miracle of her sexual manna he should probably be thanking the heavens, from where, as it turns out, she might actually originate. So suggest his dreams, in which Claire repeatedly speaks of “them” and how she was sent to Martin. Writer-director Paul Auster doesn’t attempt to dispel the notion that the gods above have nothing better to do than lavish men like Martin and Jim Fortunato (Michael Imperioli) with pretty women to uncork their writer’s block. The film’s only concern is Martin’s crisis to keep Claire in the flesh after he’s finished writing a short story whose contents are never elaborated but, if we had to guess what they were, they probably would have something to do with his obscene sense of privilege. Would that the film’s sad contempt for women was the worst of its troubles. Auster has no visual imagination whatsoever, his stilted images and the fakery of the film’s outdoor scenes (trees look as if they are made of cardboard) confirming my initial suspicion that this material should have been planted on an Off Broadway stage somewhere and left there to die.
- New Yorker Films
- 94 min
- Paul Auster
- Paul Auster
- David Thewlis, Irène Jacob, Michael Imperioli, Sophie Auster
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