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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

The Fabulous Baker Boys
Directed by Steve Kloves
Artisan 01/89 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R - adult situations

In this familial drama, Frank (Beau Bridges) and his younger brother Jack (Jeff Bridges) have been playing dual pianos on Seattle's cocktail lounge circuit for 15 years. They know each other's habits and overlook each other's flaws.

Frank, who lives in suburbia with his wife and family, handles the business, makes the musical selections, and smoothes over the rough spots caused by his brother's bohemian and aloof personality. Jack, who's the better pianist, glides through the gigs with little interest. During the days, he mopes around his apartment. His only companions are a sad sack dog and a lonely little girl who pops in when her single mother is out on dates.

When Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) comes aboard as a singer, business picks up. She calls Frank an "egghead" and takes a fancy to Jack. But singing comes before pleasure until they are booked at a fancy resort hotel over the Christmas holidays. When his brother is called home, Jack and Susie fall into each other's arms. She wants him to endorse some changes in their repertoire. Sparks fly and Susie leaves — but not before she has cut Jack to the quick with an incisive critique of his self-destructive lethargy and his inability to be true to his heart's desire.

Writer and first-time director Steve Kloves (Racing with the Moon) draws out simmering performances from the three lead characters and hits all the right buttons in his portrait of sibling rivalry. Best of all is the way Susie serves as a catalyst to help the brothers see that it's time to move on and that they're only destroying each other with the games they're playing both on and off stage.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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