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Inspired by the haunting music of composer Franz Liszt, Liebestraum is an ominous tale (Time Out) of lust, jealousy and murder. Award-winning* writer/director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) brilliantly weaves a 'smoldering blend of sex, death and music (Janet Maslin, TheNew York Times) into a 'satisfyingly dark (The Hollywood Reporter), 'sophisticated, seductive [and] romantic thriller (Village View)! What begins as a passionate crusade to save a landmark building turns into a passionate love affair with dire consequences. Nick (Kevin Anderson), a professor of architecture who's come home to visit his dying mother (Kim Novak), knows he must preserve a cast-iron building marked for demolition by Paul (Bill Pullman), a ruthless developer andformer friend. But when he falls for Paul's wife, Jane (Pamela Gidley), Nick unwittingly tempts fate with his own life. For buried within the walls of the landmark lies a dark secreta murderous history which is linked to Nick and now may find him as its next victim! *1995: Director, IndependentSpirit Award, LA Film Critics Circle and National Society of Film Critics, Leaving Las Vegas
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Sadly, I have nothing good to say about this film. The plot, script, and directing succeeded in keeping Ms. Novak from actually BEING in the film. Her body was there and, of course, her name is in the top three credits.
Lest someone believe that this movie is, in some contorted way, a "masterpiece" (as the lead review proclaims), let me assure you that NOTHING could be further from the truth. The other three actors are enjoyable to look at, and... that's it. The movie plods and struggles from beginning to end, and the "final twist" is murky, not believable, and not the least bit clever.
Other bones to pick:
1. Lapses of bad taste that in no way serve the story: We are treated to a minor actor having a REAL marathon piss for your viewing enjoyment... lovely, and oh so "masterful" in its complete irrelevance to both the story and main character development. Good sense, not to mention good taste, would have insisted that this be cut completely. It was a Hollywood hit against small town law enforcement at the expense of both the audience and the plot. Congratulations, Figgis.
2. Lots of clever, artsy discussion of women kissing men's fingers only to discover that those fingers have just come from other women's vaginas... how clever and artsy and edgy is that? Congratulations again, Figgis. Had there been any good taste left in Hollywood, this movie would have sunk your career to a berth next to the Titanic.
(Assuming this review ever sees the light of day when there's one proclaiming this movie a "5-star masterpiece" to anchor at the top of the reviews) If, after reading this review, you go on to actually buy this film, then by all means do not miss the one "deleted scene" in the sparse "Special Features" section... it is definitely "special" in the exact same way that this entire film is "special." Why on Earth did Figgis bother to cut it?!
Kim, what were you thinking when you agreed to do this picture!?
Characters return, converging to the site of the crime: the Ralston Department Store, now closed and being torn down. Unfortunately, the movie plods along much too slowly. Clues are too slow in coming and too abstractly cloaked in artsy film making. It isn't until the last 20 minutes that things begin to fall into place; The matter of the lone survivor of the crime leaves a problematic element if one accepts the premise of possible reincarnation - maybe transmigration of a soul was intended?
Strangely, the film does pull you to it after you've watched it once and understand what it was trying for. The problem is the lack of action and plodding pace can't hold the attention long enough for most to want to watch it through to the end the first time around.....