Though the intelligence of its source material still resonates, this sluggish adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's visionary science-fiction novel raises interesting issues but fails to find a visual equivalent for the novelist's fantastic landscape. The Lathe was Heaven was previously filmed for public television in 1979, and became one of the most-requested programs in PBS history. The original version starred Bruce Davison, who co-produced this remake. In the future, Big Brother is watching and manipulating the populace. Independent thinker George Orr (Lukas Haas) resists this regimentation; found guilty of a drug misdemeanor, he's sentenced to counseling rather jail time through the efforts of his public defender, Heather Lelache (Lisa Bonet). Initially, Orr's shrink, Dr. Haber (James Caan), figures him for a sad sack suffering delusions that his dreams can reshape reality. But as Orr continues to visit Haber, subtle changes in the fabric of Haber's life take place his office furnishings are improved, his secretary jazzes up her style of dress. No longer skeptical, Haber tries to manipulate Orr's dreams for his own benefit. Utilizing a brainwashing tool the so-called "Lathe of Heaven" outlawed by the State, Haber furtively converts the machine to a mind-control device. With Orr hooked up to the lathe, Dr. Haber can monitor REM patterns and influence the content of his potent dreams. Cognizant of Haber's betrayal, Orr asks Ms. Lelache (on whom he harbors an intense crush fueled by his belief that he knows her from other dream realities) to rid him of his Svengali. But control freak Haber intends to force Orr to continue dreaming up a life of fame and fortune for him. If only director Philip Haas hadn't equated snail-like pacing and deep significance! The film's altered-reality premise is novel, and Orr's struggles prove that a mind really is a terrible thing to waste, particularly on someone else's behalf.
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- Released: 2002
- Rating: NR
- Review: Though the intelligence of its source material still resonates, this sluggish adaptation of Ursula K. Le Guin's visionary science-fiction novel raises interesting issues but fails to find a visual equivalent for the novelist's fantastic landscape. The Lath… (more)