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The Thomas Crown Affair

Starring Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo;
Denis Leary, Ben Gazarra and Faye Dunaway
Screenplay by Leslie Dixon & Kurt Wimmer
Based on the original story by Alan R. Trustman
Directed by John McTiernan
website: www.mgm.com/thethomascrownaffair

IN SHORT: Watching rich folks is a tedious chore. [Rated [R], 114 minutes]

As always, no comparison is made to the Source Material, a 1968 film written by Alan R. Trustman and starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.

You may remember Cranky griping about concept over execution in the discussions over another movie. Well, The Thomas Crown Affair is lovingly executed, but there's so little story content in relation to scenes of how the richest of the rich live, as we watch the passionate but romance-less game being played by the main characters, that you could easily duck out to refill the popcorn and soda and not miss a darn thing. You could do that several times and add a bathroom break, too. So, while Cranky sat in his chair watching the lovely exotic scenery that those who own their own jets can jet off to when Manhattan gets them down, he got creative. Here now, the background of The Thomas Crown Affair.

She's a poor girl from Ohio. He's a poor boy from Scotland.
She got wealthy. He got grand stinking rich. Like Billions.
She likes to chase. He likes the challenge.
She's tempting. He's a temptation.
He steals valuable art. She gets it back for the insurance company.
He has woman troubles. She has no man. A match made in Heaven, eh?

He's Thomas Crown (Pierce Brosnan), who buys and sells companies before lunch. An ex-boxer who has put so many competitors to the canvas that life isn't thrilling anymore gets his kicks ripping off art galleries. She's Catherine Banning (Rene Russo), who stands to make a cool $5 millions if she can find the Monet painting (she's sure) he's purloined in an audacious attack on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It's a brilliantly conceived attack, punctuated by an annoying techno-flavored underscore by Bill Conti. Director John McTiernan 's languid direction stretches the thing out way too long for my taste. And we're just getting started.

McTiernan, who directed Die Hard, offers up long luxuriating cinematic passages designed to set a mood of elegance and a rich texture on a cinematic canvas. As Crown and Banning do their little dance, are they flirting or are they manipulating each other and if so, is it into bed or into the clink, the only member of their manage a trois to enjoy the chase is Crown's shrink, played with an amusing grin, by Faye Dunaway. Crown's inability to let women get close enough to him, and his attempts to deal with it (he says he can get a woman to trust him, but never the other way around) is a running theme. Also in the middle, is Denis Leary as the New York Police Detective in charge of the investigation, who may or may not care about the sins of the rich. It's something you may want to debate when this is done.

He knows he stole the painting. She knows he stole the painting and is more than willing to break the law to get it back. When all is said and done, Crown wants Banning. Banning wants the painting almost as much as she wants Crown. When he offers to prove his feelings by returning the painting to the museum, hanging it in the same spot it was stolen from, will she bust him or will she join him as a fugitive, living the high life on an island in the sun. The shame is that when this final gimmick comes down, it's a brilliant scene. A scattering of applause greeted it in the preview Cranky sat in. There are a couple of surprises held to the very end, but by then, it's too late. The leisurely pace and padding kill this sucker dead.

Watching two rich people that are so cold to the world try to fire up an almost-middle-aged passion leads to much nudity, but no sense of spark between the pair. There is more life and spark in the very brief scenes with Faye Dunaway to put Rene Russo's performance to shame. Brosnan is doing a cold Remington Steele. The disappointment is such that I may hit the video store to see what worked about this story the first time out.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Thomas Crown Affair, he would have paid...


Rent it. Lovely scenery.

Click to buy films by director John McTiernan
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