Don Juan's delusion has become Jack's romance, and for a light and lovely evening, it becomes ours.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"Don Juan DeMarco" sprinkles fairy dust on the audience, and in a mere 90 minutes casts a lovely spell. The British did it with "Enchanted April," and now Jeremy Leven has written and directed the kind of lighthearted fable that rarely flies free of Hollywood's heavy hands. If that isn't enough, he has encouraged his inspired cast to have a good time. They do, and so do we.

The opening scene is a tone-setting treasure. Don Juan DeMarco (Johnny Depp), clothed and masked as his mythical hero, has lost the love of his life and is about to end his own--at 21. He poses grandly on the ledge of a modern skyscraper, while Dr. Jack Mickler responds to the emergency, his enormous bulk borne skyward in the bucket of a giant cherry picker. Marlon Brando, of course.

We learn quickly that the inside of Don Juan's head is where the eminent doctor wants to go. Why on earth would he want to cure a man who is touched at every turn with romance? Touch me if you will, he says, with just a little of your magic.

In sessions with Jack, Don Juan's wondrous story unfolds, gathering an irresistible momentum that carries Jack and the audience into its spell. As he tells his tall tale, huge moons shine, swords flash and brave men defend beautiful women. As he listens, Jack bends under the weight of his own envy.

By now, Jack is bringing bits and pieces of the spirit of his exotic new patient to his wife Marilyn (Faye Dunaway), who listens with bemused interest. "I feel we've surrendered our lives to the momentum of mediocrity," he says of his impending retirement to their flower-covered house in the suburbs. Little by little, he takes her hand and they take flight.

Marilyn smiles on her enormous husband with radiant affection. He adores her in return and revels in his rediscovery of her. "I want to hear about your hopes and dreams that got lost along the way while I was thinking about myself." She cries gently and replies, "I thought you'd never ask."

Brando and Dunaway make pure magic of their scenes. Dunaway is buoyant and subtle, while the massive Brando moves about with the lightness of the reborn. Their deep self-assurance allows them to turn their roles into a romp. They have fun together. At once electric and playful, their presence fills the screen. They sparkle.

Johnny Depp is just right as the romantic who has found the secret to the tedium of life, just right as the poet who can pass it along to the rest of us. As Jack says to his colleagues who insist on dealing with reality, "That's such a limited view of the situation." Don Juan's delusion has become Jack's romance, and for a light and lovely evening, it becomes ours.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 488
Studio : New Line Cinema
Rating : PG-13
Running Time: 1h30m

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