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The Leading Man Reviews

A potentially wicked sex farce that plays as middling drama, this glossy backstage look at hijinks among the thespians is pretty, occasionally engaging and entirely toothless. Renowned and popularly acclaimed playwright Felix Webb (Lambert Wilson) is in a fine mess, married to the intelligent, beautiful Elena (Anna Galiena) -- who put aside her own writing aspirations to become a supportive wife, well-liked hostess and loving mother to their three children -- and deeply in love with the young and talented Hilary Rule (Thandie Newton), who's just been cast in his new play and is losing patience with playing the other woman in real life. Salvation takes the sleekly unlikely form of American heartthrob Robin Grange (Jon Bon Jovi), fresh off a hit movie and aching for some legitimate theatrical experience. He makes Felix an indecent proposal: He'll seduce Elena and make her happy to leave her marriage, freeing up Felix to legitimize his relationship with Hilary. All Robin asks in return is that Felix pick up the bills he incurs while playing Mr. Perfect. What he wants, of course, is considerably more. A gifted farceur could have a fine time with this material, but the script lacks the acid edge that would make it crackle deliciously and John Duigan's direction is entirely free of the manic energy and split-second timing that bitter comedy demands. Newton and Galiena deliver pitch-perfect performances as the two women in Felix's life, but the movie's credibility rests on accepting Robin as a ruthlessly Machiavellian seducer. While buff, blandly handsome and a pleasant enough screen presence, Jon Bon Jovi can't suggest the bottomless reserves of guile, intelligence and resolve his role demands.