You know the disclaimer in movies about "any similarity to actual persons
or events is unintentional", well, it takes on new meaning in "Up
Close and Personal" the new Robert Redford - Michelle Pfeiffer vehicle.
It started out as a biography of Jessica Savitch, an ambitious but alcoholic
newswoman who died in a car accident rather mysteriously. So imagine my
surprise when this premise evolves into "A Star is Born".
Not to say that it isn't enjoyable to watch Redford take the romantic lead
and to watch Pfeiffer transform from glitzy weather girl to respected anchor
under Redford's tutelage. His hard hitting veteran newsman is so straight
forward that even his name is "Justice". While he still believes
in the story over the style, he changes Pheiffer to a polished gem of a
newscaster and romances her too. For Producer/Director Jon Avnet, "Up
Close and Personal" is not just a contemporary love story set against
the backdrop of the evening news because the work is in fact the obstacle
to the relationship. Avnet has some experience in the unusual love story
department since he helmed "Fried Green Tomatoes" and "Risky
Business". But somehow the noted writers Joan Didion and John Gregory
Dunne give Redford lines like," Every day we have is one more than
we deserve." They may know the media business inside out, but that
ranks right up with "Love means never having to say you're sorry"
as one of the lamest lines of all time.
And I got the feeling that Avnet et al started out to make one movie and
edited down to another. In what context was Kate Nelligan, as Redford's
former wife, talking with Pfeiffer in Nelligan's office? It appears that
there was supposed to be a deeper relationship between Noble Willingham
and Redford, but it boiled down nothing. Stockard Channing as Pfeiffer's
rival gives an outstanding performance, but the question of Pfeiffer's lack
of understanding of the issues is addressed only by a change of hair color.
Ironic isn't it? You try to make a movie about style versus substance
and all everyone remembers is that Michelle Pfeiffer's hair color changed.