Running Time: 106 mins.                    Rating: xx Stars/5 Stars

MPAA Rating: PG

Director: John Huddles

Genre: Drama

Country: USA

Language: English

Distributor: Lionsgate

Cast: Minnie Driver, Nigel Hawthorne, Rufus Sewell, Amelia Heinie

HIGHER LOVE or HIRE LOVE? Better to leave this picture unexamined.

I have never figured out how stuff this awful gets made. It’s not pointless, I’ll give it that, it’s just so derivative and takes its own Great Heart for granted that it never bothers to articulate. Nigel Hawthorne plays the traditional Holy Fool who has a $134,000 pillar built so he can sit on it and work his spiritual magic. The problem to overcome is that Rufus Sewell, who lives in a sprawling mansion on a piece of property with its own lake, forest and hills, needs money which he plans to get by selling his uncles wine collection so he can start up an old manganese mine. Don’t think about it, just go along with it. Minnie Driver, who I guess is his designated girlfriend ain’t driving no mini as she pulls up to the front door behind the wheel of a half million dollar Mercedes 300 SL. I couldn’t figure out the meaning of ‘needs money’ in the context of this film.

In fact in as much as Driver was driving the ’56 Merc and Mr. Tang, the potential wine buyer, shows up at the front door in a cherry ’54 Oldsmobile kited out as a taxi, and another character drives around in an early’50’s pick-up truck I wasn’t sure when this was happening. Certain accessories like watches and sunglasses seemed a lot more contemporary than the ’50s. Then there were these Indians and hippies who never speak but suddenly turn up underfoot, literally in one scene, eating on the floor while everyone else is sitting at the table. I thought it all might be taking place in present day Paraguay but the Indians turn out to be the ‘Hmong people’. Right.

The rest of the story plays out to a dumb ‘Follow your heart, Luke’ philosophy complete with mad Uncle Cullen playing Yoda and the money troubles are solved because Sewell will record an acoustic guitar CD, sure to make millions.

And there are these two silent but beautiful androids of either gender who hang around until the end so as to be more fitting love objects for Sewell and Driver, as if their long, long, incredibly long conversational duels would have put an intolerable strain on their relationship.

It’s the old thing of the difference between showing a thing and saying you’re showing a thing. The wise and/or holy fool is spiritually correct because the script says he is. If one considers Socrates, then it is the unexamined life that is not living, not the involuntarily feckless. In this story the answer would seem to be married to a blowup doll who will never question, challenge, doubt or talk back, hardly spiritual perfection or natural harmony. It’s kind of spooky to watch. One thinks of deals made with the devil. The end credit says it was filmed entirely in Los Angeles.

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