A BUSINESS AFFAIR (D’une Femme A L’autre)
(director: Charlotte Brandstrom; screenwriters: Charlotte Brandstrom/inspired from two books by Barbara Skelton “Tears Before Bedtime” and “Weep No More”; cinematographer: Willy Kurant; editor: Laurence Méry-Clark; cast: Carole Bouquet (Kate Swallow), Jonathan Pryce (Alec Bolton), Christopher Walken (Vanni Corso), Sheila Hancock (Judith), Anna Manahan (Bianca), Fernando Guillen Cuervo (Angel), Tom Wilkinson (Bob); Runtime: 98; Castle Hill; 1994-France/Germany/Spain/UK)
“Though it’s well-written and well-acted, it’s still a fluff piece.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A slight romantic comedy with a feminist bent, but one with no edge. It turns out to be a conventional film filled with the usual cliches and stock characters of this genre. Though it’s well-written and well-acted, it’s still a fluff piece. It’s made for the gentle art-house set, those who don’t want something too disturbing to think about. It’s about a critically successful writer husband, Alec (Pryce). The self-absorbed man becomes threatened by his department store floor-walking model wife, Kate (Bouquet), who wants to be a writer. She meets his crass publisher, Vanni Corso (Walken), another self-absorbed man, and a predictable relationship occurs. The fireworks occur because she outgrows her husband and is no longer overly impressed with his genius and no longer worships at his feet. She now wants her own identity and independence.
The film is plagued with the cheap set designs reserved for a TV movie. The film sagged in the middle of the story from tedium, and eventually landed on its rear end with its unspectacular climax.
It’s set in London, and it opens as model Kate rebuffs sexual advances by a wealthy American shopper, Vanni. She later meets him as her hubby’s new upstart publisher who seeks to have her intellectual author husband in his stable in order to give him credibility as a publisher of quality. The publisher quickly wins favor with her by publishing her vanity novel.
Alec, who is an obnoxious grouse and someone whom it seems it would be impossible to live with, tries to do everything to stop his wife from having her book published–which only pushes her into the grasping arms of Vanni. The publisher is proud that he’s a mamma’s boy who never married and is a self-made man who has earned millions. He has recently acquired a failing old London publishing house and plans to revitalize it, as he proudly tells Kate: “If my father could sell pizzas in Harlem, I could sell culture in Europe.” The only thing that couldn’t be sold, is this stiff story and tired plot line.
The mystery to me, is how the lovely Kate could like either man unless she was an insensitive dummy.
Kate soon divorces the beleaguered Alec and marries the soon-to-become-beleaguered Vanni. When Kate writes a second novel, Vanni rebuffs her the same way her first hubby did. It ends with the same results that happened to hubby number one, as its story of ambition and lust winds down in a whimper.
A Business Affair was loosely based on the real-life literary and romantic travails of married authors Barbara Skelton and Cyril Connolly, and covers their celebrated 1950s love triangle.
REVIEWED ON 8/23/2001 GRADE: C- https://dennisschwartzreviews.com/