“Intersection” represents a misguided attempt to retool a French art film as a Hollywood big-star vehicle. On the most elementary commercial level, this lushly appointed meller about a wealthy man caught between his wife and new girlfriend will severely let down audiences hoping for steamy encounters between Richard Gere and Sharon Stone, resulting in quick falloff from whatever its initial weekend B.O. may be.
More significantly, however, Mark Rydell’s first film since “For the Boys” three years ago never gets a narrative head of steam going precisely because it’s based on material whose nature is at odds with the way American films normally tell stories.
Claude Sautet’s 1970 Michel Piccoli-Romy Schneider starrer “Les Choses de la vie” (The Things of Life), like many French films, was more concerned with character and life’s texture than with plot. This very loose adaptation (acknowledgement of the sources is buried in the end credits) attempts to goose things up here and there, but original’s essentially meditative nature is left quite unfulfilled by the new approach and glamour cast.
Set in the bracing, gray locale of a wintry Vancouver, the David Rayfiel-Marshall Brickman script has trendy architect Vincent (Gere) enjoying sack time with groovy journalist Olivia (Lolita Davidovich) while still working at the firm he founded with his refined wife, Sally (Stone).
Not only do the two women still adore Vincent, but so does his 13-year-old daughter (Jenny Morrison). The man is rich, designs the most exciting new buildings in B.C. and is fawned over by beautiful females, but his life’s still a mess and he pouts whenever any of his women puts any pressure on him.
Flashbacks begin to reveal the past: Daddy’s girl Sally, whom Vincent married years ago, has probably always been too cold and high society-minded for her husband, who explains his situation with, “We weren’t a family. We were a corporation with a kid”; Vincent started his affair with Olivia somewhat reluctantly, but their hot nights finally hookedhim, and he has managed to have his g.f. and daughter get along.
Vincent remains on the fence until the end, when he finally decides which woman he really wants. But a car wreck, telegraphed by the opening sequence, puts him on an unanticipated detour, leaving it to the women to sort things out.
Highly decorous pic is cloaked in allusions and metaphors about the quick passage of time and how one should seize and cherish what’s most important in life.
But, save Vincent’s relationship with his lovely daughter, there’s precious little in the film that would seem to represent anything worth holding on to, rendering the already facile philosophical content even more superficial.
As the man at an emotional crossroads, Gere increasingly indulges some easy mannerisms to diminishing returns.
Whenever confronted with something he doesn’t like, he looks away or closes his eyes and exhales with impatience or disgust as a way of communicating his tortured soul. He also narcissistically bathes in the attentions of the three women in his life in a manner that eventually grates, given how negligently he treats them.
Choosing to play the scorned wife rather than the other woman, Stone is all tension and welled-up eyes.
She acquits herself nicely in her few dramatic opportunities but, after “Sliver,” this is the second consecutive victim role that she has played, and she’s just not the victim type. Some better judgment in role selection seems in order.
As the temptress, Davidovich comes off as rather too flighty and insubstantial to make a middle-aged man both leave his family and ponder the meaning of life. Registering best is Morrison as the bright, agreeable daughter.
Production values are almost too deluxe, from Ellen Mirojnick’s ultra-elegant costumes and production designer Harold Michelson’s pampered settings to Vilmos Zsigmond’s cool lensing.
Pic reportedly had test-marketing screenings that included two hot sex scenes between Gere and Davidovich, but there is not a trace of them left. One flashback quickie between Gere and Stone is played fully clothed and mostly for laughs.