Mediocre: Harlequin: Another Woman

Harlequin: Another Woman (1994)

Directed by Alan Smythe
Written by Margot Dalton, Jim Henshaw, Lee Langley, Lyle Slack
Produced by Ian McDougall, Jean Desormeaux, Jim Henshaw, Caird Urquhart
Starring Justine Bateman, Peter Outerbridge, Amy Stewart, Jackie Richardson, Kenneth Welsh, James Purcell, Elizabeth Lennie, Diana Belshaw, Meg Hogarth


Retrograde amnesia comes of concussion inflicted by thuggish muggers to suppress the memories and clear the choler of a rancorous restaurateur (Bateman), whose re-emergent geniality affords her an opportunity to rectify spoiled kinships with her handsome husband (Outerbridge) and teenage sister-in-law (Stewart). However, she’s stalked by a greasy acquaintance (Purcell) who in murderous malice targets her marriage.


Dalton’s drama is typical of Harlquin’s formulaic fare, and translates well to these 92 minutes. Cozily romantic locales and circumstances, and the divulgence of a tragic secret, supplement her slightly skimpy story.


The professionally undistinguished direction of (pseudonymous?) Smythe is as unsurprising as unobjectionable.


Excepting some dreamt cutbacks uglified by selective decolorization in post-production, the bland warmth of Michael Storey’s photography becomes Smythe’s adequate composition.


Withal, Pia Di Ciaula cut this to a measured pace in an accordingly conventional manner.


Ordinarily obnoxiously oafish in Family Ties and dreck like The Night We Never Met, Bateman actually radiates a hesitant amenity as the amiable amnesiac, despite her plodding gait. Outerbridge has buttoned-down charm to spare, which largely offsets the leads’ lack of steam. Among the satisfactorily subsidiary players, Welsh is avuncularly appealing as Bateman’s suave psychiatrist.


Emotive, synthesized strings, smooth jazz and portentous tones are all comprised to be liminally heard in David Blamires’s score.


Her gradual recovery, recollections, reconciliations, and romance in Bateman’s severally palatial and rustic houses are ingratiating.


Amatorian scenes of Bateman’s and Outerbridge’s spouses set early in their relationship star a couple who bear no resemblance to them. Two assaults are presented in blurrily unsightly slow motion.


Anyone familiar with Harlequin’s lightweight novels or televised features knows what to expect from any of either: lovers live happily ever after, but their trip is more important than its inevitable destination. Mike Nichols’s and J.J. Abrams’s situationally similar, unbearably saccharine Regarding Henry was produced on a tenfold budget a few years prior, but it’s laughably inferior to this modest trifle.

Execrable: The Night We Never Met

The Night We Never Met (1993)
Directed and written by Warren Leight
Produced by Michael Peyser, Robert De Niro, Rudd Simmons, Mary Ann Page, Janet Graham, Daniel Rogosin, Susan Seidelman, Sidney Kimmel, Bob Weinstein, Harvey Weinstein
Starring Matthew Broderick, Annabella Sciorra, Kevin Anderson, Justine Bateman, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Tim Guinee, Michelle Hurst, Christine Baranski
Leight’s insipidly indirect contribution to the surplusage of charmless, unfunny, independently produced romantic comedies that glutted American theaters in the ’90s contains all the earmarks of its genus: smarm substituted for sarcasm, painfully proportionate protraction and predictability, and an abject absence of agreeable characters. Obstructed and repelled by the slovenly roommates with whom he shares a flyblown apartment, a precious, superficially cultured delicatesseur (Broderick, at his career’s nadir) employed at Dean & DeLuca who harbors a restauranteur’s aspirations sublets more comfortable and commodious lodgings from a scummily sexist broker (Anderson) biweekly, as does a miserably married dental assistant (Sciorra) who luxuriates only in her painterly avocation. Both men (and the audience) tolerate dismal women: ever a milksop, the fromagier dotes on a dimwitted performance artist (Tripplehorn, burlesquing an atrocious French accent) who works him like her personal punch press, while his piggish landlord’s engaged to magisterial and neanderthaloid dullard Bateman, who couldn’t be more suitable for the role of a dense virago. By correspondence and favors, both of the desperate leaseholders (who repeatedly, adorably miss one other) establish a remote sympathy, but enduringly discommodious misapprehensions characteristic of a plot belabored during a sitcom’s seventh season separate them until a distinctly underwhelming conclusion. It’s far worse a rigor than most flicks of its subgenre: plodding formulaically through its three hoary acts — every development of which any child could readily presage — character development is advanced an inch in toto through wearily dilatory sequences clumsily punctuated by ill-timed fades and lousy editing to the jazzy twee of Evan Lurie’s unbearable score, all parading the inefficiencies of the writer-director and his post-production staff. An apish, clamorous tantrum provoked from Bateman briefly dispels supreme tedium, but cameos from Garry Shandling and Louise Lasser only remind viewers that they could instead be watching something worthwhile, or at least humorous. Impressively, Leight fulfilled what ought be an impossibility by raising the funds to produce an ostensive comedy void of a single amusing scene.