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Nina Takes a Lover

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Nina Takes a Lover

Starring: Laura San Giacomo, Paul Rhys
Director: Alan Jacobs
Rated: R
RunTime: 100 Minutes
Release Date: May 1995
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Cristi Conaway, Fisher Stevens, Michael O'Keefe

Review by Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

NINA TAKES A LOVER tells the story of a journalist (Michael O'Keefe) who is interviewing people about love and infidelity in the 90s. Among the people he interviews is the central character of the show, Nina (Laura San Giacomo), her friend (Cristi Conaway), and Nina's lover, a photographer (Paul Rhys). They each tell the stories of their affairs to the journalist while sipping espresso in a quaint coffee shop in what appears to be San Francisco.

Nina's friend's lover (Fisher Stevens) is a guy with a scruffy beard who makes perfect espresso at another coffee place. This is definitely a 90s movie. We have heavy drinking in half of the scenes, and it is all great coffee. The 50s movies featured beer drinking regular guys. The 60s flicks were filled with young people doing drugs. In the 70s we had cocktails and certainly in the 80s we saw lots of wine, especially white wine as the beverage of choice. I guess with the 90s here, rather than having characters being plastered and passing out, we will have them wired and hyperactive. But I digress.

NINA TAKES A LOVER is a movie where not much happens and the tone of it all is highly subdued which is reflected in the dreamy music. Overall, this can be a very soporific movie so don't go to the 9:30 showing. I would expect that the reaction of most people seeing this movie will range from mild boredom to a mild rapport with the characters. It is not a movie that is easy to get excited about or to dislike.

Laura San Giacomo who was so wonderful, as was everyone else, in SEX, LIES, AND VIDEOTAPE, plays a fairly reserved lover in this movie. Her husband goes out of town for three weeks so she get bored and looks to find a lover. Her married friend is ahead of her and already has hers. Spouses are not visible or talked about much--romance is.

The script and the directing were done by Alan Jacobs who needed to put more oomph in both. I like the characters he created, but I kept hoping in vain for them to come alive. Jacobs seemed interested in creating a mood piece with a message. He succeeded in the former although I wish he had more ambitious goals, and he failed in the latter.

The cinematography by Phil Parmet was a little unusual. In order to emphasis the separateness of people in a relationship he was constantly filling the frame with one person and then panning over to the other. It was a technique I could have done without.

The script makes an attempt at a big switch towards the end of the movie. I did not like nor buy this part at all. It felt as if they had gotten bad scores when test marketing the show, and they tacked on the changes as an attempt to make the movie more involving and to wake up the audience.

Copyright 1995 Steve Rhodes

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