Stone Cold Bad

Hotshot architect Vincent Eastman barrels down a slick mountain road in his classic 1968 Mercedes 280SL. He rounds a tight curve to discover a dilapidated VW van that has stalled while attempting to enter the thoroughfare ahead of him. Eastman swerves into the left lane to avoid the van -- directly into the path of an oncoming truck. The architect swerves again, loses control, and spins violently off the road.

The first hour and a half of Intersection consists of flashbacks that reveal what Eastman is thinking about as he skitters down that highway on a collision course with destiny. To steal a line from an insipid Maureen McGovern song, he's torn between two lovers A his dispassionate but dependable wife and his more exciting, spontaneous mistress. Neither choice seems particularly appealing. He characterizes his marriage as a "corporation with a kid"; his girlfriend whines a lot, has a weakness for booze, and is pressuring him for a wedding ring of her own. You almost expect to hear him say, "I'll take whatever's behind Door Number Three, Monty!"

But that would require action, and Eastman is a first-class vacillator. He takes so long to decide between the two that you want to stand up and cheer when a colleague advises him, "Tempus fugit, pal. Whatever you're going to do -- do it."

The filmmakers are counting on viewers caring about Eastman's dilemma. It's a grievous miscalculation. None of the three principals is very attractive. A less compelling trio of self-absorbed, navel-contemplating, upper-middle-class whiners would be hard to imagine. And the casting doesn't help. Richard Gere, who showed some promise in 1990's Internal Affairs and last year's Sommersby, is back to his old wooden-Indian impersonation as the indecisive architect. Sharon Stone appears equally stiff as his pinched and proper wife Sally. Maybe, like Harvey Keitel in Dangerous Game, keeping her clothes on for an entire movie somehow diminishes her acting ability (which is not to imply that she's in his league as a thespian). And Lolita Davidovich is a major disappointment. She never even remotely gets a handle on the character of Olivia Marshak, the journalist-mistress. One minute she's an assertive career woman with a sharp wit, the next minute she's a subservient girlfriend who wants to start nesting. Apparently neither the filmmakers nor Davidovich has heard of transitions, foreshadowing, or character development.

Intersection is a remake of the 1970 French existential film Les choses de la vie, directed by Claude Sautet. The French version was an exploration of what makes life worthwhile. Intersection and its featherweight cast treat the subject matter with all the depth of a TV commercial and the forced sincerity of an insurance salesman.

 
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