Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1/12/09: John and Mary (1969)

Yesterday I watched 71-year-old Dustin Hoffman meet a woman and spend an entire day getting to know her as the seed of romance takes root; today I experienced the same thing with a 32-year-old Dusty. Fresh off his international smash The Graduate, Hoffman teamed with Mia Farrow, herself enjoying the stardom that came with Rosemary's Baby. Both actors look exactly like they did in their previous hits (let's face it, Mary is not a huge leap from Rosemary), but John and Mary enjoyed none of the enduring esteem of those earlier movies—in fact, today it's even more obscure than your average Ed Wood trifle.

The story couldn't be simpler: Dustin meets Mia at a bar, they go back to his flat in New York City, sleep together...then spend the next day trying to figure out what comes next. The film is surprisingly gimmicky, with interior monologues and flashbacks providing the various thoughts and backstory to help flesh out the obvious limitations of observing two people held captive in his apartment making soft-boiled eggs and chitchat; there's also the added conceit that they don't even ask each other's names until the movie's over. The performers do their best to overcome the so-so script, but the film is not without its peculiar charms. The chemistry between Hoffman and Farrow make it worth watching to see whether what they had was a one-night or maybe something more. Cool also to see the Hoffmeister act in a similarly romantic movie some 40 years earlier. Also featuring Michael Tolin and Sunny Griffin (in flashbacks) as the pair's former lovers. Rating 3/5.

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