Mr. Jones

  • 1993
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

The psychiatric love story, a peculiar genre epitomized by Hitchcock's loonily melodramatic SPELLBOUND (1946), seems to have become popular in 1993--at least with Richard Gere, who chose to follow up the profitable but ludicrous FINAL ANALYSIS with this sorry star vehicle which he also co-produced. Gere plays the eponymous and nearly anonymous Jones...read more

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The psychiatric love story, a peculiar genre epitomized by Hitchcock's loonily melodramatic SPELLBOUND (1946), seems to have become popular in 1993--at least with Richard Gere, who chose to follow up the profitable but ludicrous FINAL ANALYSIS with this sorry star vehicle which he also

co-produced.

Gere plays the eponymous and nearly anonymous Jones (we never learn his first name), an unemployed carpenter, who charms his way into a construction job only to have a psychotic episode, courting death by walking on an unfinished roof while raving about wanting to fly and the need to find "a

little equilibrium." Sedated and restrained, he is examined by Dr. Elizabeth Bowen (Lena Olin). Jones is charming and boisterous, but Bowen finds him unstable and erratic. The Hospital Administrator (Anne Bancroft), fighting financial woes, wields a policy of "evaluate, medicate, vacate," so Jones

is released without Bowen's approval.

He takes $12,000 out of the bank, along with a teller (Daryl Hannah lookalike Lisa Malkiewicz), and proceeds to flash the money around, and plays all the pianos in a music store. At a concert of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, overcome with enthusiasm, he leaps on-stage and attempts to conduct.

Again restrained and under care, he calls for Bowen. At the competency hearing, Bowen testifies that Jones is a Bipolar Manic Depressive, who should be involuntarily committed for his own safety. Jones' self defense is that Bowen has never witnessed him in a "depressive" phase. After winning his

release, Jones continues to proposition Bowen, and, worn down by his persistence, they have lunch at the beach.

Then the depressive phase arrives. Jones stands distractedly in the middle of the street, unshaven and unwashed. He collapses in tears in Bowen's arms and returns to the hospital, where he halfheartedly participates in group sessions. Bowen learns about Ellen--a former girlfriend who left him

due to his illness. Using this knowledge, she precipitates a violent showdown, where he moans that he's "too much trouble" to love, and she responds that losing him would be "a big unprofessional rip in my heart." They kiss and end up making love.

To protect her and the hospital from her gross misconduct, Jones is transferred elsewhere, where he is eventually deemed stable. Once on the street he incites fights and steals a motorcycle. Back on the rooftop, he seems to be preparing to jump, when Bowen arrives (still calling him "Mr.

Jones"). She persuades him not to. They smooch, and continue smooching as the credits roll.

Gere does a tremendous job of making Jones compelling and believable, largely unaided by the script which often lapses into the banal. He seemlessly weaves strands of rage, pain and, most convincingly, childlike joyfulness into a complex and appealing character. Olin suffers through her role

looking fatigued and neurotic. Bancroft's appearance is merely a cameo. The best performance in the film is from Lauren Tom as Amanda, a winsome, giddy, heartbreaking woman who's release from care leads to predictable consequences. Maurice Jarre's score is insipid. The direction by Mike Figgis,

who did terrific work with Gere in INTERNAL AFFAIRS, is crisp and evocative, with carefully detailed elegance.

The film, however, is saddled with a story (by Eric Roth) that is irredeemably dimwitted. The innumerable improbabilities are nothing compared to the misguided concept at the heart of the narrative. Bowen is the most irresponsible, unconscionable shrink since Peter Sellers in WHAT'S NEW

PUSSYCAT? She is depicted not as a compassionate, effective doctor (she finds her patients vaguely distasteful), but instead as a sad, emotional woman who "reaches" Jones through love. This reduces her from being an effective professional to just another nurturing surrogate mother.

The film pretends to be seriously concerned about the intersection of madness and identity, but never explores who these people really are. Instead of showing two people developing genuine intimacy through tenderness and slow, hard-won honesty, we see hysterical behavior generating hysterical

responses. This is less psychodrama than Harlequin romance. (Profanity, adult situations.)

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  • Released: 1993
  • Rating: R
  • Review: The psychiatric love story, a peculiar genre epitomized by Hitchcock's loonily melodramatic SPELLBOUND (1946), seems to have become popular in 1993--at least with Richard Gere, who chose to follow up the profitable but ludicrous FINAL ANALYSIS with this so… (more)

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