Rich in Love

(Bruce Beresford, USA, 1993)


There's something about mellow family stories in lush, natural settings that compels directors to shoot scenes at a discreet distance through doorways, or send the camera gently gliding around anyone standing still.

Bruce Beresford does not shirk on either tic in Rich in Love, an undemanding comedy-drama written by Alfred Uhry (the same team made Driving Miss Daisy [1989]).

This is a portrait of a family gently falling apart and coming together again. For a good stretch, it preaches a wearying anti-political correctness line: when a long-suffering mother (Jill Clayburgh) leaves a complacent husband (Albert Finney), their daughter (Kathryn Erbe) asks: "Is this something feminist or something real?"

More horrifying still, in another plot thread, newly wed Kyle MacLachlan confesses that he punctured his condom each night for a month in order to impregnate his reluctant bride (Suzy Amis).

Erbe as narrator is the centre of this tale, and the film works hard to solve the problem of her sexual priggishness by introducing the possibility of an illicit fling with MacLachlan. On this, as on everything, Beresford and Uhry play safe.

But there is, mercifully, one touching and progressive idea in Rich in Love: the realisation that this dysfunctional family might finally be able to function in a better and more humane way than it ever did in the bad old days.

MORE Beresford: Black Robe

© Adrian Martin November 1993

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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