Love Letters

The emotional distance of Amy Jones's direction makes all the difference in this dark romance (1983), about a Los Angeles woman (Jamie Lee Curtis) who discovers that her late mother had been involved in an enduring love affair. Out of a complex of motives—a longing for the intensity her mother's love letters reveal, an urge to punish herself and her father—she initiates a destructive, violent affair with a married man (James Keach, in a hazy performance that is the film's weak point). The film has the surface calm and underlying neurotic pull of Otto Preminger's classic Angel Face; it's a very rational, well-lighted descent into romantic delirium. And Curtis, with her inner gravity, makes her character's obsessions disturbingly vivid and magnetic. With Matt Clark.

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