“Miami Rhapsody" has been dismissed in some quarters as an
imitation Woody Allen movie, but since the imitation and the movie are both so
entertaining, I don't see what the problem is. Allen himself has made unabashed
pastiches in the style of Fellini ("Stardust Memories"), Bergman
("Interiors") and German Expressionism ("Shadows and Fog"),and now here is David Frankel's take
on Allen's comedies about the moral qualms of the affluent.
to make clear he knows exactly what he's doing, Frankel stars Mia Farrow,
Allen's former muse, in a key role. And he opens the picture with a close-up of
another character delivering a monologue to her psychiatrist. This is
Woodyland, all right, and my guess is that if this were a Woody Allen film, it
would be reviewed as a pretty good one. Not great, but pretty good.
movie stars Sarah Jessica Parker as Gwyn, the middle child of the Marcus
family, affluent Jewish Miamians. She is engaged to be married to Matt (Gil
Bellows), a zoologist who dreams of living in the rain forest, presumably with
Gwyn, and studying the intimate lives of simians. But before that can happen,
Gwyn finds herself doing a little psychological zoology involving the intimate
lives of her family.
her sister's wedding, she's told by her father, Vic (Paul Mazursky), that he
suspects her mother, Nina (Farrow), is having an affair. This turns out to be
quite true; Nina confesses to having fallen for Tony (Antonio Banderas), the
handsome Latin-American male nurse who is caring for her mother in a nursing
has always considered her parents' marriage perfect, and her faith in the
institution of marriage is shaken by Nina's secret, which turns out to be the
tip of the iceberg.
quick succession, Gwyn discovers that Vic himself is having an affair, with his
travel agent. That her brother Jordan (Kevin Pollak) is cheating with his
partner's wife (Naomi Campbell).
even her newly married sister Leslie (Carla Gugino), bored with her
football-hero husband and appalled by his stinginess, is seeing an old
can it be possible, Gwyn wonders, for her to commit to an institution that
everyone around her is undermining? And . . . could it just possibly be true
that the handsome Tony would rather date Gwyn than her mother? I realize this
plot synopsis makes "Miami Rhapsody" sound like a screwball comedy
with couples popping in and out of bed.
is rather impressive is the way Frankel, who wrote as well as directed, is able
to bring levels of truth, poignancy and pain to what begins as a fairly
mechanical plot. He does this by making most of the characters self-aware; if
they're doing wrong, to some degree they realize that, and learn from it. And
in Gwyn's grandmother, a Holocaust survivor who never speaks but yet somehow
casts rays of cheerfulness and love on all about her, he provides a moral
center: a person whose example causes most of the characters to think twice
before descending into heedless selfishness.
course, probably not all of the marriages should be saved. The football star
(Bo Eason), who seems like a nice guy until he gets married, turns out to be so
self-absorbed he doesn't see why any of his money should be spent by his wife.
We understand why she strays.
the other adulterers really belong with their original spouses, and with the
moral neatness of a comedy by Shakespeare, Frankel manages to restore order and
balance by the end.
dialogue is smart and topical, although it aims at a slightly lower
intellectual level than Allen's screenplays, maybe because the movie is set in
Miami, where people are more likely to discuss politics than philosophy.
"You kids tend to put me up on a pedestal," Farrow complains to
Parker, who replies, "You lowered it the year you voted for Bush."
Miami itself is almost one of the characters in the film.
Wallner's cinematography uses its tropical colors and Art Deco architecture to
create a pulsing backdrop, and there's the sense that the characters are just a
little warmer, faster and more lustful here than they might be up north.
has a line that could have been spoken by the Allen of "Annie Hall":
"I look at marriage the same way I look at Miami: It's hot and stormy and
sometimes a little dangerous - but if it's so awful, then why is there so much