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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 4.35%
Pretty Bad: 30.43%
Total Crap: 8.7%

2 reviews, 11 user ratings

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Henry & June
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by the Grinch

"Have your tissues handy...this one's a real jerker..."
5 stars

...and I'm not talking boo-hoo crying here. Maria de Medeiros and Uma Thurman go Lysistrata! Throw in Milla Jovovich, and I'd gladly jump in and hop up and down on the bed with a skillet full of blueberry pancakes!!!

What the hell am I talking about? Nevermind...

This is one of director/writer Phillip Kaufman's most notable directorial efforts, 7 years after 'The Right Stuff' (1983) and 7 years before the exquisite if slightly flawed 'Quills' (2000). Seven must definitely be a lucky number!

Kaufman is one of those unsung talents that nobody's ever heard of, but whose absence would be noticed had he not co-wrote or directed multiple blockbusters and acclaimed films (The Indiana Jones movies for one, and other classics such as the Body Snatchers remake with Don Sutherland, and 'The Outlaw Josey Wales', arguably the best western ever made). While he's definitely no slouch, actively engaging himself in both directing and writing, he also doesn't spread himself thin. Quality of over quantity would seem to be his philosophy, and 'Henry and June' is no exception.

Set in the energetic and bacchanalian atmosphere of 1930's Paris, Henry & June is a (mostly) true story inspired by the diaries of Anais Nin (Medeiros) and the writings of Henry Miller (Fred Ward) such as 'Tropic of Cancer' and 'Tropic of Capricorn'. It's not told so much from any one perspective, but I found myself relating and focusing more on Miller as the lead character, a fish-out-of-water flopping (so to speak) around wild-eyed in the experimental bohemian crowd of 1930's Paree. The film centers around him, his triangular relationship with his wife, a manipulative and sultry vixen named June (played nicely by OOOMA Thurman) and the kindred spirit of Nin, eager to experience as much as she can while she can. As the characters become enmeshed with each other sexually and emotionally, it becomes apparent that both Nin and Miller share a similar obsession and muse...namely, Henry's enigmatic wife June. While these parties may seem as if they're in control and know what they're doing, Kaufman and company do a great job of showing the insatiable desire and immaturity that each character struggles with. 'Henry and June' is not so much a plot-piece as it is a deep psychological study of its players (in more ways than one), and the nature of love and emotion....and -yes- sex, lots and lots of SEX! Geezus, I'm turning into Dr. Ruth here, but that's the case. This movie wasn't one of the first to get an NC-17 rating for nothing, although it should be said that there are no cheap thrills or lame attempts at "shock-cinema" here....everything is included to absorb the viewer into the character relationships and the lascivious, broiling decade of pre-WWII Europe.

The casting in this film is amazing....Kaufman employs many familiar faces from the French cinema. You also might be suprised to see Kevin Spacey in one of his early roles before Se7en made him a hot item....Spacey plays a paranoid-schitzophrenic pretender beautifly, and his performance is probably my favorite. Don't sneeze, or you might miss Gary Oldman's cameo (he's credited as "Maurice Escargot"! Mahahaha!). Richard Grant is also notable as Anais Nin's loveable husband, who's almost so perfect as to be vanilla. Grant's character is almost a clueless patron for Anais and her jet-set artsy crowd. He's likeable, but you can't help but feel a little sorry for the guy for not being in-the-know (pssst! dude, your wife's a goddamned TRAMP!)

The cinematography in Henry & June is perhaps its strongest attribute...combined with Kaufman's detailed narrative, Philippe Rousselot's camerawork almost ages itself 60 years, that's how much his mastery of the camera draws you in....this guy is perhaps at his best with historic pieces, as his work in 1988's 'Dangerous Liasons' will attest.

I have to admit, those who'd rather drink draino or see Rosey O'Donnell naked than hear the term "art-house" might want to avoid this film, especially if they think 'Tropic of Cancer' is a form of melanoma, and if they really want to thank Anais Nin for writing "Head Like a Hole" at such a meaningful time in their life....all the rest of you, SEE THIS MOVIE, especially if you love erotic Cinemax-Vanguard-Cinema style films and superb cinematography. Now, I've suddenly got a hankering for blueberry pancakes...til' next we meat...

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originally posted: 05/25/02 14:16:57
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User Comments

1/27/05 MyGreenBed Decent depiction of the struggles that intellectuals have with eroticism. 3 stars
3/22/03 Jack Sommersby The dullest, unsexiest NC-17 film on record. 2nd-rate perfs and stagnant direction. 2 stars
2/11/03 Charles Tatum Crazysexycool 5 stars
9/29/02 Peter Sherlock Huge disappoinment. I agree with the comments re miscasting the female lead (what's her nam 1 stars
3/02/02 Alan Smithee Uma Thurman is so incredibly beatiful and sexy in this, I thought my TV would melt. 5 stars
2/13/01 T-bone Wow. Uma is the best. 5 stars
1/16/01 laura it looks yummy and delicious 5 stars
11/18/00 Sabrina Lu Artistic & excited 5 stars
10/05/99 strike VERY softcore porn used as an excuse for art. At least a porn movie makes me laugh.Boring!! 1 stars
9/29/99 Glitter Berry Incredibly erotic, Fred Ward owns the screen. Uma Thurman's all-time best, sexiest role 5 stars
9/18/99 Dr. Fardook Henry Miller wishes he could look that good... acutally erotic 5 stars
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  05-Oct-1990 (NC-17)

  02-Feb-1991 (18)

  02-Feb-1991 (R)

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