TUNE IN TOMORROW, the screen adaptation of Mario Vargas Llosa's acclaimed novel Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, is an amiable comedy that overcomes its faults with the sheer charm of its performers and the talent of its director, Jon Amiel.
The film, which takes place in 1951, stars Barbara Hershey as Aunt Julia, a 36-year-old divorcee who comes to New Orleans in search of a new husband but instead begins a secret romance with her 21-year-old nephew--by marriage--Martin (Keanu Reeves), who is a newswriter at a local radio station.
Another new arrival to town is eccentric scriptwriter Pedro Carmichael (Peter Falk), who is hired by Martin's bosses at WXBU to raise their sagging ratings. Dedicated to turning Martin into a "true artist," Pedro begins manipulating Aunt Julia and Martin's relationship, as well as using their
actual exchanges as dialogue for his radio show.
Amiel would seem to be the perfect choice to direct TUNE IN TOMORROW. The story-within-the-story construction of the film echoes the style of "The Singing Detective," the brilliant mini-series that Amiel directed for British television, and the overall sentimental tone of the script matches the
feel of Amiel's 1989 release QUEEN OF HEARTS. But these two styles fail to mesh. Although extremely funny, the outrageous melodrama of the soap opera feels like an intrusion on the relationships of the real characters. The drama that unfolds between Reeves and Hershey (which remains the most
interesting thing in the film) always seems to get shortchanged in favor of a cheap laugh or kooky sight-gag. The film does work, despite the wildly uneven screenplay, mainly due to the performances. Falk is hilarious (especially funny is the inspiring speech he gives his radio actors before they
go on the air), Hershey, as usual, is wonderful; only Reeves seems to be struggling, and his forced southern accent is a bit distracting. Robert Stevens's photography is terrific, Jim Clay's production design is strikingly authentic, and Wynton Marsalis's score is a standout.
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- Released: 1990
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: TUNE IN TOMORROW, the screen adaptation of Mario Vargas Llosa's acclaimed novel Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter, is an amiable comedy that overcomes its faults with the sheer charm of its performers and the talent of its director, Jon Amiel. The film, whi… (more)