The Object of Beauty is a throwback to the romantic comedies of Swinging London cinema, but lacks the punch of the best of that late 1960s genre.
John Malkovich toplines as a ne’er-do-well holed up in a swank London hotel with mate Andie MacDowell. Everyone assumes the two of them are married, but MacDowell is still hitched to estranged hubbie Peter Riegert.
Plot concerns the title object, a small Henry Moore figurine that MacDowell received from Riegert as a present and which Malkovich desperately wants to sell or use for an insurance scam to cover his hotel tab and ongoing business reverses.
Key script contrivance has a deaf-mute maid (Rudi Davies), newly hired at the hotel, becoming obsessed with the Moore sculpture and stealing it for a keepsake.
Malkovich ably brings out the unsympathetic nature of his antihero, but the script doesn’t help him much. The viewer will instantly side with MacDowell, whose natural beauty is augmented here by a feisty violent streak whenever Malkovich steps over the line (which is frequent). Result is a mildly diverting but empty picture.