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A Time of Destiny Reviews

Despite the starring presence of Timothy Hutton and William Hurt, A TIME OF DESTINY is a disappointingly overblown melodrama. Beginning at a battlefront in WW II Italy, where American soldiers Martin and Jack (Hurt and Hutton, respectively) seem closer than brothers, the story flashes back to San Diego. There, Basque immigrant Jorge (Francisco Rabal) heads a family that includes his wife (Concha Hidalgo); married daughter Margaret (Stockard Channing); and adored daughter Josie (Melissa Leo), whose relationship with GI Jack he has forbidden. The couple elopes, but Jorge coaxes Josie from her honeymoon bed and into his car during a driving rainstorm, with Jack in pursuit. In the resulting accident Josie survives, but her father drowns. Jorge's outcast son, Martin, vows to gain vengeance on Jack, whom he blames for the death of the father who never loved or trusted him. He finagles to be transferred overseas with Jack's unit, seemingly planning to do him in during battle; instead, the two become bosom buddies and save each other's lives. On the eve of their return to the US, however, Martin tells his brother-in-law just who he really is, promising to kill him if he tries to return to Josie. Eventually there's a climactic, VERTIGO-derived fight to the finish between the two men in the bell tower of the church where Jack and Josie are about to renew their vows. Writer-director Gregory Nava and writer-producer Anna Thomas (makers of EL NORTE) intend the film to make a grand statement about love, vengeance, and fate, but A TIME OF DESTINY instead meanders to an end that has less to do with destiny than predictability. With the exception of the excellent Channing, none of the characters are sympathetic enough to be involving. Hutton's and Leo's personalities are so underdeveloped that it never becomes clear just exactly what makes them love each other so damn much. Hurt is less one-dimensional, but the psychological motivation provided for his strangely driven character is forced, his off-the-wall performance brave but unconvincing. All of this is a shame, since Nava does provide some stunning camerawork and memorable images that transcend his script's limitations. Most notable is the opening shot--the point-of-view journey of a shell through the barrel of an artillery piece, into airborne trajectory, and ultimately to explosive impact.