By Marc S. Sanders
It goes back to what I’ve always said. If you don’t have a good script, you got nothing. I don’t care if you have powerhouse actors like Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep in the lead roles, as well as Harvey Keitel and Dianne Weist for support. Without a script without even just a crumb of intelligence, a film will be terrible. In fact, these magnificent actors actually did a romantic film together in 1984 called Falling In Love, and yes it’s got the talent and nothing to say.
This might as well have been a Ferrari with no oil and no gas. DeNiro and Streep are Frank and Molly who meet cute during a hectic Christmas Eve shopping spree in New York City. Director Ulu Grosbard sets up moments through the opening credits and a good long 20 minutes of the players actually crossing paths on the train and then various streets and stores in the city, unaware of each other, before they finally collide their shopping bags with one another in Rizzoli’s Book Store. Wouldn’t you know it? After they’ve collected their things, they realize on Christmas morning that they took each other’s gift for their respective spouses. So Frank’s wife Annie (Jane Kaczmarek) got the book about sailing, and Molly’s husband Brian (David Clennon) got the book about gardening.
Since Frank and Molly ritually take the same train into the city, naturally they will circle back with each other. Frank is an architect working at a construction site, while Molly goes to visit her sick father in the hospital. They sit with one another, exchange phone numbers and have lunch together. A chance at kindling a romance arrives, but can they violate their marriages?
None of this is new. We’ve seen this a million times before. That’s not a reason to give it another try for a story like this. Only don’t make it so dull, and man o’ man is Falling In Love dull. REALLY DULL! Lifetime TV trash is more exhilarating than this.
The script from Michael Christofer has absolutely nothing to say. There’s no life to any of the dialogue. There’s no monologue offered for DeNiro or Streep to recite, that maybe would explore the conflicts they are having within themselves. There’s no time devoted to their connections with Kascmarek and Clennon, respectively.
Falling In Love is nothing more than a series of moments spliced together for Streep and DeNiro to just physically sit with one another. They go to Chinatown. So what? They don’t share any character dimension with themselves. They sneak away to Frank’s friend’s (Keitel) apartment to make love. The scene lacks any kind of passion or yearning. They sit on the train or god forbid fall in despair that they missed each other at the station. Falling In Love is only an empty void of a film.
I can’t compliment DeNiro or Streep because they are not given any tools to work with to bring those bravado performances we are so accustomed to. Christofer’s script gives them friends to talk to. Keitel goes with DeNiro. Wiest goes with Streep. Nothing is shared with these confidants. Keitel’s character is getting a divorce. So? It has no influence on DeNiro’s character. Wiest’s character is a wall to talk to. Nothing more. I know absolutely nothing about her.
What a let down this picture is. This could have been a Fatal Attraction or a When Harry Met Sally… for these two magnificent actors. There could have been, and should have been, something exciting here. It could have had humor, suspense, fear and heck…let’s just say it…love! Nothing is said of any significance. No moment is shown that grabs the viewer. There’s no big scenes to gear up for, and the ending is simply vague in its delivery. Falling In Love is like chewing on cardboard with no seasoning. It’s tasteless, boring, and I’ll remind you once again, it’s really, really, really dull.