Directed with loving care by Barbra Streisand, this adaptation of the best-seller also boasts a serious flaw: Streisand herself. Narrated by Tom Wingo (Nolte) in flashbacks intercut with present-day sequences, THE PRINCE OF TIDES tells the story of his family, a poor white clan from the South Carolina tidewater emotionally crippled by a never-talked-about...read more
Directed with loving care by Barbra Streisand, this adaptation of the best-seller also boasts a serious flaw: Streisand herself. Narrated by Tom Wingo (Nolte) in flashbacks intercut with present-day sequences, THE PRINCE OF TIDES tells the story of his family, a poor white clan from the
South Carolina tidewater emotionally crippled by a never-talked-about event which took place during Tom's childhood. Only years later, following yet another suicide attempt by Tom's twin sister Savannah (Dillon), a Greenwich Village poet, is the family demon exorcised.
Savannah, who has lost her will to live, does not respond to therapy. At the request of Dr. Susan Lowenstein (Streisand), Tom flies north to shed light on his sister's troubled psyche. Tom, too, has been left emotionally scarred by the mysterious childhood event. An unemployed high-school teacher
and football coach, the father of three, he spends depressing days as house-husband to wife Sallie (Danner), a doctor who's thinking of leaving him for her lover. Over a six-week period with Dr. Susie, Tom explores the fragments of the Wingo past. His own confidence slowly returns--partly thanks
to a soft-focus love affair with Dr. Sue, partly thanks to his successful coaching in football of her withdrawn, preppy son Bernard (Gould, Streisand's son by Elliott). What pigskin won't do for a guy.
Therapists will be scornful of Lowenstein's quick cure of the Wingo family trauma (i.e. remember the past, and all will be well), especially since she dispenses her expertise gratis--not to mention the fact that she tumbles into bed with her "client." Most moviegoers, though, are probably willing
to let this slip by. What doesn't wash is La Strident's glamorous characterization of the sophisticated New York shrink. As star, director and co-producer, Streisand shifts the book's focus from the Wingo past to the Tom-Susan love affair. This could have worked had Streisand directed herself
better--if, indeed, she had directed herself at all. Instead of a performance, we get smirks, poses, campy shots that linger on her outrageously long manicured fingernails, and radiant, cloying smiles. Streisand's inadequacies, though, are more than compensated for by Nolte's compelling Tom. He
brings conviction and depth to the role, treading a fine line between self-pity and self-respect and exposing his frailties with a rare sensitivity. He also manages to keep a straight face during a scene where La Babs orders dinner in French--now that's acting.
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