I went into their new "Elective Affinities" with a perfectly open mind,
especially since I have a soft spot for Isabelle Huppert and also have fond
memories of the Goethe novel it's based on; but whichever Taviani is the good
brother, his evil sibling was in there somewhere messing up the works. True,
the movie has gorgeous camera work, and the performances are reasonably
convincing. But all the earnest acting and sumptuous cinematography in the
world couldn't compensate for its perilously low energy level, which becomes
downright draining after a while. (Its position in the festival's second
half, when critics' own energy levels are likely to be plummeting, didn't
help.) The production has French dialogue--probably because of its financing,
possibly because of Huppert, and conceivably because there was a passably
good Italian version of the novel about a dozen years ago--so it can
officially be declared a multinational disappointment.
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