By Doug Cummings
Arizona Daily Wildcat
In 1938, director Leo McCarey wrote and directed "Love Affair," the story of a shipboard romance. In 1957, he remade the film as "An Affair to Remember," starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. Today, producer Warren Beatty ("Heaven Can Wait," "Reds") has remade the film once again as "Love Affair."
Beatty has mounted impressive talent, including director Glenn Gordon Caron ("Clean and Sober"), screenwriter Robert Towne ("Chinatown"), cinematographer Conrad Hall ("Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"), designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti ("The Last Emperor"), and composer Ennio Morricone ("The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"). Even Katherine Hepburn ("Guess Who's Coming to Dinner") makes an appearance. But while the movie is predictably elegant and beautiful to watch, it never really transcends the simplicity of its story.
"Love Affair" tells the story of Mike Gambil (Warren Beatty) and Terry
McKay (Annette Bening), two people who fall in love while on a cruise, even though they are both engaged to others. Once back in New York, they decide to rethink their lives independently, and meet again in three months to see if they still love each other.
The movie is enjoyably romantic and generates enough character interest through its performances, particularly by Annette Bening ("Bugsy"). Bening exhibits an intelligent beauty that is rare among actresses today and harkens back to movie stars in Hollywood's glamour days.
Warren Beatty (who also co-wrote the screenplay) reverts to his usual emotional aloofness and flustered humor. His persona works for Gambil's character, even though one wishes for other characterizations after his intense performance in "Bugsy."
Director Caron displays an even hand with the film, balancing romanticism with tragic drama. The movie is leisurely paced, and there are several scenes that enjoyably take their time and strengthen their impact.
The movie's emotional turning point occurs when Gambil and McKay stop off at an island while on their cruise and meet Gambil's Aunt Ginny, played by Katherine Hepburn in her first screen appearance in thirteen years. At first, her appearance seems like a facile marketing ploy, as she shakingly walks from room to room. But when she begins to speak, the intelligence and assuredness of her craft shine through.
"Love Affair" is a movie for the romantic, and while it offers little more than romance, it does so with style and charm.
"Love Affair" is showing at Century Gateway 12, 792-9000.
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