Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.
USA, 1995. Walkow-Gruber Pictures, Renegade Films. Screenplay by Gary Walkow, based on the novel by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Cinematography by Dan Gillham. Produced by Alicia Allain, Chris Beckman, Frank J. Gruber. Music by Mark Governor. Production Design by Michael Rizzo. Costume Design by Alina Panova. Film Editing by Peter B. Ellis. Toronto International Film Festival 1995.
Gary Walkow adapts Dostoyevsky’s novel to modern day, starring Henry Czerny as the self-hating bureaucrat who is narrating his life into a video camera after announcing that he is dying. He tells the tale of his dissatisfying experiences with others, focusing on a dinner with false friends (including a young Jon Favreau) who he then follows to a brothel where he has an assignation with a sex worker (Sheryl Lee) with whom he makes a connection. He offers to take her out of her profession and put her up in his home and she takes him seriously, showing up and moving in with him only to deal with his unpleasant personality first-hand. The purpose is to show us how timeless and international the great Russian author is, plus to save on cash since modern day means a much smaller budget (and it shows), but there are aspects to the story (like the manner in which prostitution is described and displayed) that make it obvious it’s based on something from a long time ago. Walkow may have the bullet points of Dostoyevsky’s plot down but Czerny’s character is justifiably alone, he earns no sympathy for being so unskilled at understanding others around him because Walkow has no sense for the author’s lusty humour. The whole thing is a giant bore, it might as well just be one long monologue by Czerny into the camcorder as the actual dramatic scenes never manage to find the drama amid all the incessant lecturing.