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'Passion of Mind'

Both sides now: Demi Moore is a confused woman in 'Passion of Mind'

Friday, May 26, 2000

By Barbara Vancheri, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Film and television have toyed with the line between dreams or imagined life and reality for years. Throw in the suggestion of parallel universes and you've got a veritable trend.

 
   
'Passion Of Mind'


RATING: PG-13 for sexuality

STARRING: Demi Moore, Stellan Skarsgard, William Fichtner

DIRECTOR: Alain Berliner

WEB SITE: www.passionofmind.com

CRITIC'S CALL: 2 1/2 stars

 
 

The final episode of "St. Elsewhere," for instance, suggested the rich world of St. Eligius Hospital existed only in the imagination of an autistic boy. In the romantic comedy "Sliding Doors," Gwyneth Paltrow plays an Englishwoman whose life is shaped by whether she catches a London subway; we see the parallel universes where she makes the train and where she doesn't. In "Me Myself I," Rachel Griffiths is an Australian magazine writer who is given the freaky chance to see what her life would be like had she married and given birth to three children.

"Passion of Mind," directed by Alain Berliner ("Ma Vie en Rose") and starring Demi Moore, gives this theme a new twist. In one world, Marie is a widowed mother of two daughters living in the south of France, where the sunlight and the vineyards are golden. She reviews books for The New York Times, but seems to have no other visible means of support.

She goes to bed as Marie and becomes Marty, a single, childless successful Manhattan literary agent who lives in an artsy loft and wears her long brunette hair upswept and dresses in distinctive designer duds and jewelry.

The 30-something woman is leading two very different lives, and she knows both cannot be real. But which is fact and which is fiction? A Viennese shrink in France tells her she's "riding two horses, and the mind's not built to do that without breaking apart." She has a therapist in New York, too, and he suggests the French world must be the fantasy.

Marie/Marty seems perfectly happy to reap the rewards of both lives until she falls in love -- with one man in each world. In France, she meets a successful, seductive novelist (Stellan Skarsgard); in New York, she falls for an unlikely suitor, a sweet financial manager (William Fichtner).

As she grows closer to both men, she realizes she must sort out her muddled mind, once and for all.

"Passion of Mind" is a more cerebral, dreamlike exploration of duality than "Sliding Doors" or "Me Myself I." Although "Passion" is a better-looking film, courtesy of cinematographer Eduardo Serra and lovely locations in Provence, Paris and New York, it's not as satisfying.

On one hand, enough clues are sprinkled along the way so the ending makes sense. On the other, I just have one question: You've got two therapists and neither of them figured this out? Even if only one is real, someone owes Marie/Marty a refund.

Moore, who's been absent from the big screen since 1997's "Deconstructing Harry" and "G.I. Jane," is adequate but she doesn't have the depth of a Paltrow or Griffiths. She has specialized in strong women ("Disclosure," "A Few Good Men") so much that it's hard to buy her as tormented, vulnerable, even giggly at times, although she is a natural in the scenes with the girls. And for once, Moore's much-photographed body is discreetly shown.

"Passion of Mind," with its interesting cast that also includes Peter Riegert and Sinead Cusack, reeled me in for the first 90 minutes. But then, in the final 15, the line went slack and it lost me.



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