Based on the works and diaries of French author Anais Nin, this film is a stylized look at the relationship of Nin and American writer Henry Miller. We are whisked away to Paris 1931 where Nin and Miller are about to embark on a torrid love affair involving not only their bodies but their intellects as well. The film is about Nin’s exploration of her own sexuality, of her discoveries and of her love for both Miller and her husband Hugo as well as her feelings towards Miller’s muse – his wife June.
An obvious labour of love from Director Kaufman who also wrote and produced the film, this movie looks beautiful but at times seems a little too clean – the odd cockroach not withstanding. Miller’s poverty barely shows, he’s always clean, the streets are clean, the beds are clean, hell everything looks good. Of course, I guess it is a love story, we hardly want to see the skidmarks do we? Still there is a lack of grit, a lack of the desperation that Miller was feeling while he tried to get his words down – or maybe that’s just me as a fan of his work asking for something Kaufman wasn’t looking for.
A little long perhaps at over two hours but then it is such a languid movie that I guess it couldn’t really be any other way. Solid performances from Fred Ward as Henry Miller and the gorgeous Maria De Medeiros as Anais Nin with Uma Therman sleepwalking through her role as June Miller and Richard E Grant (Hugo) being, well, Richard E Grant really.
This is beautifully done, it is sensual, erotic, intelligent if occasionally a little too slick and an ideal movie to share with your partner but it still left me thinking that there was much more to the story, that there were areas not quite explored. To be honest I was a little disappointed with the movie but I think that is my problem not yours. I was coming into this with Henry Miller’s words in my head not Anais Nin’s. Once I settled into the era and took my blinkers off, I found myself being drawn into their world. Perhaps that is the real reason that Kaufman made a two hour film, to give us luddites a chance to enter.
There’s nothing wrong here, it all looks good, it feels right but for a movie about the souls of two great writers I was left not really knowing anymore about them than when I started. But for all its faults Maria De Medeiros can park her notebook on my bedside table anytime she wants!
PS – despite the cover mentioning DVD extras there was nothing on the disc. But then who needs the production notes anyway?
*Edition reviews is now out of print from Umbrella Entertainment.