Goodbye Lover

Bomb Rating: 

Roland Joffé cruises around his cinematic canvas like a four-year-old on Nyquil driving his first bumper car.

You know how things sometimes flash across your television or you glance at a movie poster and think you saw something when you really didn't? Well, I attended this film thinking that one of the screenwriters was Joel Coen ("Fargo"), only to discover that the screenwriter's name was actually Joel Cohen, one of the guys who wrote "Toy Story." I don't want to dwell on this rather minor complaint, but somebody needs to force this loser hack to change his name. Perhaps to "Alan Smithee."

This movie doesn't have the slightest clue who its main character is as Roland Joffé cruises around his cinematic canvas like a four-year-old on Nyquil driving his first bumper car. The poster features Patricia Arquette as Sandra Dunmore, but this simply means she's one of the characters who doesn't die. It first appears that this is Sandra's story, but then the focus shifts to her brother-in-law Ben (Don Johnson). Sandra is sleeping with Ben, who's worried that his brother, Jake (Dermot Mulroney) might find out and become mildly upset.

Joffé leaves Sandra for a bit and follows some other clowns around as he compulsively introduces plot twist after plot twist like he's got some kind of disease. Soon Ben starts groping after co-worker Peggy (Mary-Louise Parker), and then the entire bunch is investigated by Rita Pompano (Ellen DeGeneres) after one of them ends up dead.

Aside from the fact that this story is more contrived than Bill Clinton at Sunday Service, it's also a film that cheats. There are two scenes in which Joffé shows you something that doesn't actually happen, simply because a character imagines it happens. In other words, Ben wants to push Jake off the balcony, and you actually see him do it, although it's only in his head. This is the cinematic equivalent of that gradeschool trick where, just as you're nearing the centerfold of a purloined Playboy, some funny-boy classmate screams "teacher!" and your bounty is snatched away. As far as I know, that particular kid is still hanging by his underwear in our gymnasium rafters, and Roland Joffé belongs right next to him.

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