THE UNAPPROACHABLE (DIE UNERREICHBARE)(TV)
(director/writer: Krzysztof Zanussi; screenwriter: Edward Zebrowski; cinematographer: Slawomir Idziak; editors: Karin Nowarra/Inge Gehren; music: Wojciech Kilar; cast: Leslie Caron (Claudia), Danny Webb (Marek), Leslie Malton (Marianne); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Wolfgang Patschke/Regina Ziegler; MGM/UA Home Video; 1982-West Germany/Poland-in English)
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Made in English, in West Germany, for German television. Polish filmmaker Krzysztof Zanussi (“Contract”/”Family Life”/”Camouflage”) directs and co-writes with Edward Zebrowski this provocative misfire. The schematic drama feels creepy and also fails to register as a compelling drawing room comedy, as its awkward dialogue seems stage-like and its theme about what’s real and what’s fake resonates as inane.
The wealthy aging former actress Claudia (Leslie Caron) lives as an embittered recluse in a gated mansion in a posh Berlin suburban neighborhood in West Germany. Her housekeeper Marianne (Leslie Malton) is off the day a man claiming to be hurt when mugged connives his way into her home and is confronted by the leery Claudia, who soon establishes his wounds are not real and gets him to reveal that he is a university student studying art history who wants to take photographs of the Canaletto painting from the Venetian period in the star’s collection.
They play a talky (and the talk is ever so stilted, pretentious and dull) cat and mouse game in taking turns in who is the seducer and who is the one being seduced, as the handsome and well-spoken lad is eventually revealed as Marianne’s boyfriend Marek (Daniel Webb). Even when Claudia realizes he’s a scoundrel and they finally leave the drawing room and go upstairs to her bedroom for sex, they still can’t stop talking and it sounds as if they are in a play that will soon close because of bad reviews.
It is a cold film, which has nothing worthwhile to say about the games women and men play when they have no clue what they are after in life. But at least Caron looks good despite being up there in years and she shows that she can still command the screen as an actress.
REVIEWED ON 1/27/2014 GRADE: C