RICH IN LOVE is a frantic but lifeless drama, about yet another colorfully eccentric Southern family, from the writer-director-producer team behind the far more successful DRIVING MISS DAISY.
The family of Warren (Albert Finney) and Helen Odom (Jill Clayburgh) lives in a big, rambling South Carolina mansion gone to seed in relative peace and quiet until the abrupt departure of Helen. Daughter Lucille (Kathryn Erbe) is the first to learn of Helen's flight, so abrupt that she didn't
even bother to put away the groceries she had just brought home. Lucille takes the note left by her mother, saying she wants to begin a "second life," and substitutes a forgery, emphasizing that Warren shouldn't feel himself to blame for Helen's leaving.
Warren is immediately suspicious, and later distraught, crisscrossing the state with Lucille--who drops out of her last year of high school to care for her father--in search of Helen. Lucille also summons home her sister Rae (Suzy Amis), a congressional aide who has given up her career after
becoming pregnant to marry the child's father, Billy McQueen (Kyle MacLachlan). Before too long, Warren begins a second life of his own, undertaking a late education and striking up a relationship with hairdresser Vera (Piper Laurie).
Only Lucille seems concerned with returning to the way things were, but even her state is temporary. She finally consummates her relationship with on-again-off-again boyfriend Wayne (Ethan Hawke) and, after realizing she doesn't really love him, has a one-night stand with Billy during a down in
his relationship with Rae, whom pregnancy has made extremely volatile. With the birth of Rae's baby, Rae and Billy reconcile and decide to move back to Washington.
Lucille finally discovers her mother, who has been living about a mile away in the guest house of a family friend (Alfre Woodard). Helen returns home, though whether she'll stay is not clear, since Warren continues seeing Vera. The Odoms do, however, sell their house, and Lucille is left driving
off into the sunset en route to Duke University, where she'll begin college after returning to high school to finish her senior year.
RICH IN LOVE is thoroughly inconsequential--a potentially intriguing drama whose rough edges have been sanded away and burnished to a comforting sheen, leaving a set of characters and events with the depth of a better-than-average sitcom. Relentlessly upbeat, it is full of plot points that are
either left in the dust--such as Lucille's note substitution--or presented with a frustrating obliqueness, like the affair between Lucille and Billy. (After a long, steamy kiss on the dock near the house, they're next seen coming up from the basement, completely composed and unconcerned, as if
they'd just gone out for frozen yogurt instead of sexually betraying Lucille's sister.)
Alfred Uhry's script, adapted from a novel by Josephine Humphreys, treats family trauma in a rather trivial way, as something that clears up by itself if left alone, like a minor cut or scrape. Warren's depression in the wake of Helen's departure is presented as pure zaniness, ranging from
midnight snacks of potato chip and mayonnaise sandwiches to a dangerous, breakneck chase through a town with no visible police force after Warren spots someone why may be Helen in a car. Even Rae's nonstop cigarette smoking and drinking well into her final trimester of pregnancy is seen as just
another endearing comic quirk.
The cast of RICH IN LOVE tries hard throughout, but their roles are so insubstantial that the actors have nothing other than forced eccentricity to sink their teeth into. Another thing that seems forced here is the product placement, from carefully staged guest appearances by a box of Cheerios
to the film's reversion to the visual style of a TV commercial whenever Vera drives up in her meticulously clean Colt subcompact. It doesn't bode well when a film's inanimate objects command more attention than their animate ones. (Adult situations, profanity.)
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- Released: 1993
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: RICH IN LOVE is a frantic but lifeless drama, about yet another colorfully eccentric Southern family, from the writer-director-producer team behind the far more successful DRIVING MISS DAISY. The family of Warren (Albert Finney) and Helen Odom (Jill Cla… (more)