Under The Cherry Moon (1986)

PRINCE

Bil’s rating (out of 5): B.  

USA, 1986.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by Becky Johnston.  Cinematography by Michael Ballhaus.  Produced by Robert Cavallo, Steven FargnoliJoseph Ruffalo.  Music by Prince and the Revolution.  Production Design by Richard Sylbert.  Costume Design by Marie France.  Film Editing by Éva Gárdos, Rebecca Ross.  

The success of Purple Rain, which included an Oscar for its star and composer Prince, is followed by a project in which he takes over as director as well as lead.  It’s an empty-headed mess about two gigolos living on the Riviera (Jerome Benton being the other one) who see dollar signs when a wealthy heiress (Kristin Scott Thomas) is thrown a birthday party by her billionaire father (Steven Berkoff).  Both men pursue the young lady but it’s Prince who captures her heart, the two of them going on long drives and making love in grottos (that always have a convenient store of candles ready to be lit all around them), stretching about five minutes worth of story over 100 excruciating minutes of screen time.  What Prince does best he does too little, his wonderful music filling the soundtrack but only actually performing songs on film a few times, and that’s a shame.  Busting out his dance moves at a nightclub shows the razor-sharp perfection of his talent, an energy that is focused and powerful, while as an actor and director he is merely assembling a loose collection of moments that see him play-acting bits of movies he probably loved watching as a kid.  By the time you get to the scene where he chases Scott Thomas to the airport, a tribute to Casablanca in which they are both dressed like Ingrid Bergman, it’s confirmed that you are watching lazy pastiche that feels like a very long perfume commercial.  Shot in silky black and white but with little else to offer, this is an unfortunate waste of everyone’s time, but Scott Thomas is already showing great command of herself from the beginning of her marvelous career.

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