Join or Sign In

Sign in to customize your TV listings

Continue with Facebook Continue with email

By joining TV Guide, you agree to our Terms of Use and acknowledge the data practices in our Privacy Policy.

The Simian Line Reviews

The screenplay is credited to one "Gisela Bernice," but as anyone familiar with the work of writer-director-producer Linda Yellen could probably tell you, no such person exists. The name is a pseudonym adopted by Yellen and her ensemble casts, who improvise their way through Yellen's films. And like "Bernice's" previous efforts, the made-for-cable films CHANTILLY LACE and PARALLEL LIVES, the results here are decidedly mixed. The setting is lovely Weehawken, N.J., a quaint New York City suburb graced with cozy Victorian homes and a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline. One Halloween night, three couples assemble at the home of Katharine (Lynn Redgrave) and her much-younger lover, Rick (Harry Connick Jr.), for an informal dinner. Twentysomethings Marta and Billy (Monica Keena, Dylan Bruno) rent Katharine's upstairs room; Billy dreams of being a rock star while Marta has begun to think about growing up. Sandra and Paul (Cindy Crawford, Jamey Sheridan) are high-powered yuppies who've made the leap across the Hudson; they're renovating the house next door but plan to move back to Manhattan if and when Paul successfully negotiates his company's merger. Unbeknownst to Katharine and her company, there are two other, uninvited guests at her party: the ghosts of Katharine's grandfather, Edward (William Hurt), a Southern gentleman who's still patiently awaiting the return of his wayward wife, and Mae (Samantha Mathis), a Jazz Age flapper who's been driven from her usual haunt next door by the construction. Dinner is interrupted by the arrival of Arnita (Tyne Daly), a daffy local psychic whom Rick has invited to read his guests' palms (the "simian line" is a palmistry reference). Arnita, the only one party guest who can see Edward and Mae, gets drunk and offers a dire prediction: By New Year's Eve, one of the couples present will have broken up. Imagine A LETTER TO THREE WIVES with a touch of TOPPER: Three endangered couples and a pair of ghosts wonder which relationship will go belly-up. Given the nature of the production and multiple storyline structure, it's a wonder the film holds together at all. Yellen, who's clearly working on a tight shooting schedule and an even tighter budget, rolls camera before certain scenes have been fully worked out, and parts of her film are dangerously undercooked. Others, however, are pretty close to the mark, thanks entirely to her strong cast. Surprisingly, some of the best moments come from supermodel Crawford and singer Connick, two acting tyros not generally known for their dramatic skills.