29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
Eric Roberts is riveting!!,
By A Customer
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This review is from: Star 80 (DVD)
The reason I think Eric Roberts is one of the most underappreciated actors in Hollywood is due to this film. His performance as the husband of doomed Playboy Playmate, Dorothy Stratten, is one of the most psychologically disturbing and eerie portrayals that I have ever seen. It is the masculine counterpart to that of Glenn Close's portrayal in "Fatal Attraction". If you enjoyed that film, this is a "must see".
Although the movie is primarily about the late Dorothy Stratten, it is really about Paul Snider, her obsessed and self centered husband. Snider, a small time promoter and part time pimp, discovered Dorothy Stratten in 1978 when she was working at a ice cream parlor in Vancouver B.C.. He courted the naive young beauty, dated her and convinced her to pose for nude pictures that he would send in to Playboy. Playboy, impressed with what they saw, made her the Playboy Playmate of the Year. This landed her television and motion picture work. Because she felt she "owed" him, Dorothy married Paul Snider; however, she fell in love with the director of her last movie (I won't mention this director's name here but he is quite famous and his name was changed in "Star 80"). When Snider found out she was having an affair and he was losing her, he brutally raped and murdered her and subsequently killed himself. All of this, from her discovery, rise to stardom and death happened only in the span of two years. This is an amazingly short time frame for any talented beauty looking for a career in Hollywood.
Mariel Hemmingway delivers a lighter role as Dorothy and portrays her as the quintessential child-woman (Dorothy Stratten was only 20 when she died). Although Stratten posed nude for Playboy and was hailed as a sex godess, she was still a sweet, unsophisticated and naive "kid" who suffered from forays with her husband. That is the extent of Hemmingway's performance and she did it well. However, the contrasting underworld of Paul Snider was explored and propogated throughout the film. You saw the universe through his eyes. You felt the humiliation and insecurity he felt when accompanying his dazzling wife at the Playboy mansion. You were sickened by him and yet you felt his humiliation when Hugh Hefner looked down on this small time loser. And, finally, as he was realizing that he was losing his meal ticket, "Dorothy", you felt the agony and desparation he felt. That was how powerful a performance that Eric Roberts delivered.
In most breakups, either person eventually has to let go. Unfortunately for Dorothy Stratten, Paul Snider refused to let her go and you knew he never would, even if he had to destroy them both.