It's been a long time since anyone handed a story of aesthetics and escapism to two actors sophisticated enough to make the most of it.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

Talk about a breath of fresh air. The Thomas Crown Affair is a first-rate remake of a terrific movie. The movie is a stylish romantic thriller so well done that the preposterous becomes a celebration. The intricate plot is full of surprises that unfold at a fast clip. The movie brims with the confidence born of the sure touch of talent on all fronts.

Faye Dunaway, who starred with Steve McQueen in the original, returns to play the wise psychiatrist to Thomas Crown (now Pierce Brosnan), corporate giant, art connoisseur, lover of life on the edge. Rene Russo, in the role of her career, plays Catherine Banning, ace insurance investigator and smart, classy soulmate to Crown. Not a moment is wasted searching for the culprit of an art heist at the Metropolitan Museum because Banning confronts Crown with his guilt right off the bat. We have instead the great fun of watching them outwit each other in a grand series of maneuvers.

Banning and Crown have perfect pitch together as antagonists and lovers. Investigator and thief, brought together over the theft of a $100 million Monet, the two prove to be equals in chicanery, cerebral thrill seekers who trust no one, least of all each other. They watch each other's feats with unrestrained admiration while we, the audience, are plunged into the luxury of New York and Martinique. For Thomas Crown, aesthetics are the only thing that matter. Since most of the world is obsessed by money and blind to aesthetics, the dominant theme is a captivating one.

If Pierce Brosnan's Thomas Crown seems one-dimensional, multiple layers would only diminish this man. Anything that would distract him from all things beautiful about mind, body, and elaborate schemes would mar the story. Rene Russo is the appreciator of all that Crown lays before her, a new world in tune with her own inclinations. Still, at every turn, her mind fabricates split-second steps that challenge Crown at his best. In the high good spirits of this mind game, Brosnan remains stiffly elegant while Russo's Banning shows affecting willingness to settle in from time to time to enjoy the fruits of his labors. Each has found the one thing missing in life: a worthy adversary.

If such a thing is possible in these dazzling circumstances, a touching secondary friendship develops between Denis Leary, who is outstanding as detective Michael McCann, and Russo's Banning. And by the way, watch for the great Catamaran event of all time and for a glider that is a sliver of silent beauty.

It's been a long time since anyone handed a story of aesthetics and escapism to two actors sophisticated enough to make the most of it. "I saw him wreck a $100,000 boat because he liked the splash," says Banning, who understood exactly.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 491
Studio : MGM
Rating : R
Running time : 1h50m

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