Liebestraum | Chicago Reader

Liebestraum

For those like myself who basically enjoyed Mike Figgis's first feature, Stormy Monday, his third (he made Internal Affairs in between) begins promisingly as a thriller with the same hard-edged look, high-contrast lighting, and skeptical English view of American culture. An architecture professor (Kevin Anderson), adopted as a child then orphaned, is sent for by his real mother (Kim Novak), who's dying. He encounters an old college friend (Bill Pullman) who's supervising the demolition of a cast-iron department store that has been closed since an adulterous couple were murdered there in the early 50s. The hero starts to become involved with his friend's wife (Pamela Gidley), who shares his architectural enthusiasms, and eventually the two plot strands come together. Unfortunately, by that time the sheer pretentiousness of the proceedings—replete with brooding pauses, studied dialogue, and hothouse eroticism a la Two Moon Junction—and the occasional incoherence of the narrative (which appears to have lost at least one subplot, perhaps to studio recutting) have turned this whole farrago into borderline camp. And even though any appearance by Kim Novak is welcome, the story regrettably entails the use in flashbacks of a “younger self” who looks nothing like the Novak we know.

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