27
Oct 04

Can you make a successful film with a couple of good actors

Do You SeePost a comment • 253 views

Can you make a successful film with a couple of good actors in the back garden of a stately home? Only if your source material is really top notch, and unfortunately The Triumph Of Love’s source materially is a ropey old 18th Century French farce. Cross dressing, mistaken identity, the full whack. And without anything like a successful denoument: the fun appears to be in winding its characters up into a fever pitch of tension, and then dropping all but the supposed romantic lead in some unpleasant shit. Not what I expect from quality farce, but perhaps I have seen too much Frasier.

Mira Sorvino does not help matters by being really attractive but completely unconvincing as a boy. It is at least a credit to the piece that the very wise philosopher (Ben Kingsley) who she tries to fool does not fall for this appalling disguise. That he falls for her sexual wiles is equally convincing, an old bloke being told of undying love by a fit bit of stuff is something philosophers rarely get. But when the moment of discovery (basically Sorvino has asked every other character to marry her) there seems to be a grand climb down. Not even a vicar in the cupboard or two inappropriate people clinching in the dark.

It was a play, and on film remains a play (by Marviaux). It acknowledges this by occasionally turning the camera on to a modern day audience sitting in the garden, a nice bit of self commentary which is about the only stylistic quirk the film has. But as a document of a play it stumbles on the key point that the play is not very good. If your players are great, but are made to perform poor material the end result will still err on the side of lousy, and sit on the shelf like this has for three years. Not a triumph at all.

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