The acting from the Indian contingent is, as you might expect, dependable and good. And Pauline Collins, though she has developed a little heft since her delightful performance in Shirley Valentine, does not embarrass herself; she simply walks through this guiltmongering claptrap.
And then there's Patrick Swayze - torn, tormented, anguished, the most hyperactive brooder the Ganghes River ever reflected under moonlight. Swayze is an enigma: Whether he's dancing, bouncing, surfing, banking, or in this case, stethoscoping, he still looks as if he just stepped out of a trailer park. Swayze is the trashiest movie prince in the history of American cinema, and I can only pity the army of women under his spell strewn in Dairy Queens across the nation.
And yet, inevitably, Prince Patrick has been hitting television screens hard lately - especially on such up-market shows as Entertainment Tonight and Showbiz Today - instructing America on how important City of Joy is, how the cause of India's downtrodden must be addressed, and how meaningful the experience of poverty and hunger was to him personally. When promo-rhetoric of this variety is placed beside the finished product, you're tempted to take two things for granted: One, the star's trailer was as air-conditioned as a luxury hotel suite. And two, that his hunger was abated with elephant-size platters of tandoori chicken.
CITY OF JOY
Directed by Roland Joffe; written by Mark Medoff, from the novel by Dominique Lapierre; with Patrick Swayze, Pauline Collins, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi, and Baroon Chakraborty.