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Touch Reviews

Paul Schrader's surprisingly slick and light new movie doesn't live up to its credits. Literally: Michael Ventresco's title sequence is the highlight, despite the stellar presence of new Hollywood hot-boy Skeet Ulrich and a knockout supporting cast. The film begins with a miracle: Charlie "Juvenal" Lawson (Ulrich), a former Franciscan monk turned rehab counselor, restores a woman's sight. Con man Bill Hill (Christopher Walken) sees money in this miracle thing and sends music-promoter pal Lynn Faulkner (Bridget Fonda) to infiltrate Juvenal's world and find out whether his power to heal is on the up-and-up. Faulkner falls for the saintly dude and the feeling is reciprocated, which stirs the righteous anger of religious zealot August Murray (Tom Arnold), who tries to off his idol's betrothed. Reporter Kathy Worthington (Janeane Garofalo) and prime-time barracuda Debra Lusane (Gina Gershon) also try to pin down the super-mortal's powers. Everyone walks away changed for the better... but just a little. Filled with great performances, cool dialogue and hip production design, Schrader's adaptation of Elmore Leonard is clever (if less than fully realized), but the novel is cleverer. Ultimately, Schrader pulls us into a mind-over-matter kind of purgatory: Fun and original as his film is, it lacks feeling and heart.