Miami Rhapsody (1995)

Week of January 5, 2006


It's one thing to shift the plot of Husbands and Wives to Miami, cast a large, eclectic group of actors to flesh out a dialogue-driven script and scroll no-nonsense, Old Tyme credits across the screen at the beginning of your Woody Allen knockoff. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and all that. But it's quite another matter to cast Mia Fucking Farrow in the same sort of pivotal role that Allen would have written for his ex-wife. In fact, it's suspiciously close to the exact role Farrow played in the aforementioned Husbands and Wives.

Which raises the question: Did writer-director David Frankel actually want his career to end after this film?

Suicidal tendencies aside, how's this for an eerily prescient wrinkle: Farrow's character in Rhapsody is unwittingly involved with the same man (Antonio Banderas, perfectly cast as a Cuban nurse named Antonio) as her daughter, played by a then-supersexy Sarah Jessica Parker. Acutely aware that Antonio has taken Mumsy to the boudoir, Soon-Yi Bradshaw stops just short of bedding him while fumbling for her diaphragm on a hastily arranged tryst in Orlando.

All this overshadows a very clever movie that actually makes some far more credible observations about romantic commitment than any Allen film ever has. But Frankel could have written the best comedy in the world, and he'd still have been rightly chastised for remaking Husbands and Wives three years after Husbands and Wives was made. Talk about setting yourself up for infamy; it's no wonder Frankel's done nothing of substance since. But maybe that's how he intended it. Mike Seely

Each week the author treks to the Schlafly branch of the St. Louis Public Library, where a staff member blindfolds him and escorts him to the movie shelves. After selecting a film at random, Seely checks it out and reviews it.