Indefatigable independent filmmaker Henry Jaglom offers another feature full of pseudo-insights and psycho-babble in VENICE/VENICE, a slicker, though only marginally less tedious, package than usual.
Starring as usual, Jaglom this time plays a character named Dean, a director with an affinity for really silly hats whose films, described but never shown, sound an awful lot like those made by one Henry Jaglom. A resolutely independent figure who makes small films about relationships, Dean gives
interviews about how shocked he is to have been selected as the American representative to the jury of the Venice Film Festival, since his work has so little in common with the usual Hollywood output.
He is approached by Jeanne (Nelly Alard), a pretty, tongue-tied French journalist and admirer of his films, with whom he strikes up a tentative festival romance. After some hand-holding and rides in a gondola, however, they have a falling out over Dean devoting too much time to his festival
business and not enough to her. However, that doesn't stop Jeanne from hopping on a plane and following Dean back to Venice, California, where he lives and works after the festival is over.
There she finds Dean deep into pre-production on his next film and looking for an actress to play his wife. She also finds near him one discarded lover, Carlotta (Suzanne Bertish), who was also with him in Italy, and a live-in, about-to-be-discarded lover, Peggy (Melissa Leo), whom Dean has also
helped through some undefined emotional trauma. Jeanne sensibly decides to go back to the airport and hop on the next plane back to Paris, but is prevailed upon to stay by Peggy. Dean promises to spend the next day with Jeanne, but he has forgotten about the big audition for the spouse part in his
film and confronts an office filled with ticked-off waiting actresses. Jeanne becomes bored and restive while waiting for Dean and impulsively decides to audition for the part, which she easily wins. The film ends with Jeanne and Dean in the editing room, looking over footage from the "Italy"
section of VENICE/VENICE.
As always with a Jaglom opus, the main problem here is figuring out just where the director is in his own film.
The main gimmick in VENICE/VENICE is the ending, when what has seemed to be a straightforward romantic drama played out against the Venice backdrop turns out to be Dean's unfinished film. By duping his audience, Jaglom is apparently trying to make a statement about the relationship between movie
illusion and hard reality. This is reinforced by the interviews, dotted throughout the film, in which strikingly beautiful women complain about the way their lives have not lived up to the movie illusions on which they were raised. It's a cheap statement that has been made often and with more wit
elsewhere--almost any elsewhere, in fact.
Beyond that, there's not much more than the usual Jaglom blather. To deflect scrutiny from himself, Jaglom usually, as he does here, gives himself a different name; this way no one can accuse his work of being autobiographical. Yet the characters he plays are so undeveloped and uninteresting that
the issue is moot.
In earlier films, Jaglom's character simply subjected audiences to endless monologues insisting on his sensitivity and stature. Now, it seems, he can hire actresses, like Allard, Leo and Bertish, to do that for him. He can also afford classier cinematography and better music than he has in the
past. But take it all away and VENICE/VENICE is the same old ongoing, hellish cocktail party, filled with annoying, self-absorbed people no one wants to know, and from which most viewers will desperately want to flee after a very short time. (Adult situations.)
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- Released: 1992
- Rating: R
- Review: Indefatigable independent filmmaker Henry Jaglom offers another feature full of pseudo-insights and psycho-babble in VENICE/VENICE, a slicker, though only marginally less tedious, package than usual. Starring as usual, Jaglom this time plays a character n… (more)