Weekly Wire
Austin Chronicle Passion of Mind

By Marjorie Baumgarten

MAY 29, 2000: 

D: Alain Berliner; with Demi Moore, Stellan Skarsgård, William Fichtner, Peter Riegert, Sinead Cusack, Joss Ackland. (PG-13, 105 min.)

Demi Moore was probably smart to take a break from some of her recent dramatic failures (Striptease, The Juror, The Scarlet Letter) and lie low for a couple of years before coming back with this story about a woman and her troubled identity. Directed by Alain Berliner, who rose to arthouse fame in 1998 with his first film Ma Vie en Rose, Passion of Mind was a savvy choice for an actor trying to restore her damaged credibility. And in this, Moore succeeds, even though the film as a whole does not fare as well. For Berliner, however, this film was probably not a wise choice. Riding high on the praise for the unconventionality of his first film, about a Belgian boy who likes to dress in girls' clothing and the effect this quirk has on the boy's family and neighbors, Berliner has chosen to follow that film up with another story about a character with a dual identity. Passion of Mind, however, is woefully underwritten. Screenwriter Ron Bass, who has penned numerous women-in-distress tales (Stepmom, Waiting to Exhale, When a Man Loves a Woman, Dangerous Minds, Sleeping With the Enemy) falls down on the job here with a preposterous story bolstered by a feeble solution. Moore plays a woman who believes she's living two lives. One is a widow, a New York Times book reviewer, and mother of two living in the countryside. The other is a high-powered and single literary agent living in New York City. When she goes to sleep, she turns into the other. So many practical questions abound regarding the impossibility of this setup that it's a wonder the psychiatrists these two different women visit each focuses on the obvious psychoanalytic aspects of the situation and not the time and space impediments. As each woman becomes involved with a lover (Skarsgård and Fichtner), the Freudian complexes go from simmer to boil, and lead to an explanatory climax that proves less than satisfying. Still, Moore, Skårsgard, and Fichtner perform ably and strike more than a few pleasant moments in this otherwise forgettable drama.

2 Stars

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