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Film Review

By Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

 

Reuben, Reuben
Directed by Robert Ellis Miller
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment 12/83 DVD/VHS Feature Film
R

Scottish poet Gowan McGland has misplaced his muse, but his libido is quite active in Woodsmoke, Connecticut. He is a sarcastic, literate and loquacious man whose everyday garb consists of a tweed suit and a set of twinkling eyes. McGland barely supports himself through poetry readings. His clever habit of stealing tips left in restaurants by his dinner companions helps keep the wolf from his door.

A compulsive womanizer, the poet asks the hostess at a party to point out all the nymphomaniacs; later, when a priest from the local Anglican church invites him to attend services so he can "feel a member of the congregation," the poet responds "Who is she?" McGland's artistic presence proves to be sexually alluring to the community's matrons. However, he is smitten by Geneva, a college student whose innocence and inner radiance make his heart turn somersaults. Their affair is somewhat sidetracked by McGland's problems with his teeth and his decision to tape facts about his life for a biography to be written by hi estranged wife.

Veteran screenwriter Julius J. Epstein has done a marvelous job on this film adaptation of Peter DeVries witty 1964 novel. He has taken great care to keep its comic textures intact. Tom Conti, who stole Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence, from superstar David Bowie, draws out all the intricacies of McGland's idiosyncratic character. This portrait is certainly Academy Award material. Kelly McGillis is bright and enchanting as Geneva, and Roberts Blossom proves to be quite endearing as her independent thinking grandfather. The surprising finale of Reuben, Reuben is right in character with what has proceeded it.

 

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by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat
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