Henry & June | Chicago Reader

Henry & June

A 1990 film by Philip Kaufman (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), coscripted with Rose Kaufman, about the secret affair between writers Henry Miller and Anais Nin in Paris in the early 30s, based on a posthumous book by Nin drawn from her journals. Though the film is stylistically and thematically confused in spots—the inappropriate references to Jules and Jim help to pinpoint how relatively timid Kaufman's vision of these erotic writers is—the claustrophobic feeling for the cozy yet dank and smoky Parisian interiors is rather seductive over the long haul. Fred Ward does a surprisingly adept job of impersonating Miller's vocal and facial mannerisms, Uma Thurman is haunting as Miller's enigmatic wife June, and Maria de Medeiros is sensuous in a particularly 30s manner. The film never seems to understand these three in spite of all its fascination with them, but if Kaufman's art-movie reflexes never quite add up to a sustained style or vision, this is still a fairly sexy and charming outsider's view of bohemian passion.

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