Consenting Adults

(Alan J. Pakula, USA, 1992)


Director Alan J. Pakula made some terrific films in the early phase of his career, including Klute (1971). But Consenting Adults shows him out of touch with the moves and obsessions of contemporary thrillers.

It’s a twisting, vertiginous narrative of intimate duplicity which Brian De Palma could have enlivened: a nightmare of murder and betrayal beginning from an idle bit of partner-swapping between neighbours.

This is a tale of suburban malaise, and Pakula labours the obvious point that the world of white picket fences and shiny mobile phones harbours restless, wicked desires. What a revelation!

The entire cast, including Kevin Kline and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, seem unclear as to whether to give their characters three dimensions or merely one.

But worst of all, this is a tall tale delivered without the slightest delight in narrative hyperbole or high style.

MORE Pakula: The Pelican Brief, Rollover, Starting Over, The Sterile Cuckoo

© Adrian Martin November 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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