Mr. North | Chicago Reader

Mr. North

Not having read Thornton Wilder's 1973 novel Theophilus North, it's difficult for me to guess why this adaptation by Danny Huston (son of John) seems as pointless as it does, although on the basis of Wilder's earlier Heaven's My Destination, I suspect that satiric aspects in the original have somehow eluded the filmmakers. Janet Roach (Prizzi's Honor) coscripted with the late John Huston, who was executive producer. John Huston also acted in the film, but after his death his scenes were reshot with Robert Mitchum as his replacement. The setting is Newport, Rhode Island, 1926, and the eponymous hero (Anthony Edwards) is a young man mistaken for a “healer” because of the electricity his body contains; he changes the lives of many around him, particularly the well-to-do in Newport. Despite an all-star cast including Lauren Bacall, Harry Dean Stanton, Anjelica Huston, David Warner, Virginia Madsen, Tammy Grimes, and Mary Stuart Masterson, the film falls rather flat. The director seems interested in a respectable literary adaptation in the tradition of many of his father's films, but his technique regrettably isn't up to it; the pacing is sluggish, and although nice use is made of the sumptuous period settings, all that results is a vague sort of Pollyanna story, with Edwards especially weak in the lead part.

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