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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Tempest
Directed by Paul Mazursky
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment 08/82 DVD/VHS Feature Film
PG

We can't escape ourselves no matter when we run away. Whether it's the bottom of a bottle, or a South Sea Island, we'll find our own ghosts there waiting to greet us.
      — from A Moon for the Misbegotten by Eugene O'Neill

Phillip (John Cassavetes) is a successful New York architect who is fed up with his wife Antonia (Gena Rowlands), his job with a tycoon named Alonzo (Vittorio Gassman) and life in New York City. He wants to travel and dream. That wish is granted when Antonia, who is resurrecting her acreer as an actress, walks out on him. Philip takes their 13-year-old daughter Miranda (Molly Ringwald) to Greece where they meet Aretha (Susan Sarandon), a twice-divorced free spirit from Brooklyn. The threesome find their own little bit of paradise on a Greek island. Its only other inhabitants is Kalibanos (Raul Julia), a crazy man who lives in a cave with his goats.

Paul Mazursky, who explored the delicate and dramatic mysteries of marriage and middle age in such excellent movies as Blume in Love, An Unmarried Woman and Willie and Phil,aims in the same direction with Tempest but the effort misfired. Part of the problem is the screenplay which e co-wrote with Leo Capetanos; it is overburdened with parallels to Shakespeare's epic drama.

The other flaw is the unsympathetic way in which Phillip is presented. He knows what he doesn't like but has no idea what he really wants. Once he is free, all he succeeds in doing is making life miserable for Miranda and Aretha.

When a yacht carrying Alonzo and Antonia is capsized during a storm, Phillip's boss and wife drift ashore. Only then does the architect come to his senses. Like an adolescent who has just discovered wisdom, he recalls his father's remark: "Marriage is like baseball — it's a long season." Phillip and Antonia are reconciled. A chastened man, he asks forgiveness of all those he has wronged.

Despite its flaws, Mazursky's Tempest makes some points about the illusion of solving one's problems by running away from them. And the director continues to bring to the screen interesting reports from the battlefront of the war between traditional morality and narcissism.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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