Every major star has a few entries on their resume that they're probably less-than-thrilled with. For both Jennifer Connelly ("A Beautiful Mind") and Antonio Banderas ("Spy Kids"), I'd be willing to bet that 1994's "Of Love and Shadows" is not one of the moments in their careers they're most proud of. A badly acted and overly melodramatic drama, the film stars Connelly as Irene, a Chilean fashion writer (complete with amusing attempt at an accent) when she becomes involved in a revolution lead by photojournalist Francisco (Banderas).
When the two uncover evidence against the government, it's not long before they're on the run and eventually, getting it on in a cave (no full Connelly nudity). Although I'd like to further discuss the story, there's really very little to talk about, as director Betty Kaplan proves to be such an inept storyteller that I really had little idea of the plot (although I did get the sense that this was a true situation that needed to be told in a far more coherent way) and the dialogue is truly terrible. In one scene where Banderas and Connelly are zipping out of the city on his scooter, she states, "I love it! It's like a flying horse!" I had to rewind the DVD twice to make sure that I heard it right. There's also strange and/or non-existent transitions between scenes that make the story even more confusing. Parts of the movie seem simply like a jumble of footage.
Although Connelly proved with "A Beautiful Mind" (and with "Dark City" and Keith Gordon's little-seen "Waking the Dead" prior) that she is an actress capable of a stunning dramatic performance, she'd been involved with plenty of terrible movies in the 80's and early 90's. I've seen many of those and I have to say - this is clearly the worst thing she's ever done. "Career Opportunities" seems like expert filmmaking in comparison. To her credit, she's certainly dealing with a ridiculously awful screenplay here, but she's also somewhat miscast in the role. Banderas seems less comfortable, as if he's clearly aware of the kind of film he's stumbled into. Aside from Banderas and Connelly, many of the supporting performers seemed dubbed and their lines aren't any better
Overall, fans of either of the leads may still want to check this out, but it's such a mess of a film that I'd be surprised if many reach the end credits without turning it off.
VIDEO: "Of Love and Shadows" is presented by Miramax in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Although this is a clearly low-budget film with some awkward camera work, Miramax has delivered an unexpectedly nice transfer. Presented on a dual-layer disc, the picture boasts relatively nice sharpness and shadow detail, aside from a few scenes that are slightly softer and grainier.
Edge enhancement is occasionally present, but the slight amounts are not intrusive, nor is the occasional soft, light grain. No pixelation is seen and only a few minor specks are spotted on the print used. Colors are generally well-rendered, with natural tones and only a little bit of smearing.
SOUND: The 2.0 soundtrack is an average affair. The score is crisp and clear, but dialogue is not always easily heard.
MENUS: Basic - but still rather elegant - main menu.
EXTRAS: A grainy full-frame trailer for the movie and trailers for "In The Bedroom" and "Backflash".
Final Thoughts: Nearly unwatchable, director Betty Kaplan sinks what could have been a potentially interesting story under a pile of bad dialogue, bad direction, really bad editing and even some rather poor acting. It's a tedious and difficult film to watch. While Miramax's DVD provides respectable audio/video, it (thankfully) offers little in the way of supplements. Maybe worth renting for hardcore fans of either lead actor, but otherwise not recommended.
The Film 1/2 *