AMATEUR tells the story of a porn author named Isabelle (played by
Isabelle Huppert from MADAME BOVARY, BEDROOM WINDOW, and dozens of
other films that I have not seen). She spends her days hanging out at
a coffee shop in Manhattan. She types her poorly written stories into
her laptop while nursing a couple of cups of coffee so that they last
the entire day. I kept waiting for her to write "it was a dark and
stormy night ...".
She is persona non grata at the diner since she pays next to
nothing and occupies a table all day long. The waitresses insult her.
She retorts that just today she broke down and finally bought a muffin.
They quiz her on the type to see if she is telling the truth, and she
replies that it had mold. Such is the dialog of the movie.
Into the coffee shop walks a bleeding and amnesiac Thomas (Martin
Donovan II). He turns out to have been married to a world famous porn
star called Sofia (Elina Lowensohn from SCHLINDLER'S LIST). The rest
of the movie consist of Thomas trying to find out who he is and why two
hit men, Jan (Chuck Montgomery) and Kurt (David Simonds), are chasing
his wife and her friend, Edward (Damian Young).
The dialog by Hal Hartley, who was also the director, is of the
David Mamet staccato style, but without Mamet's intelligent writing.
As best I could figure out, the movie appears to be an attempt at a
parody of a bad movie. As a parody, it is neither funny nor the least
bit interesting. Tortuous is the word that comes to mind.
Let me give you a flavor of the quality of the writing and
directing. One character looking disheveled and disoriented, hops the
counter at a cheap fast food pizza joint and steals a slice of pizza
with the juice dripping down his chin. He then steals a drink by
putting his head upside down under a soda fountain. We are not
supplied with the motivation for this bizarre behavior. Not that I
The acting is not much. Only Isabelle Huppert plays a character
of any interest. She tries to make something of it, but fails. The
other so called actors seem not to care enough to attempt much acting.
With this script, who can blame them. When one bad guy goes to get
take out, the other reminds him to get a receipt.
AMATEUR runs way too long at 1:45. I wish I had voted with my
feet and seen the picture next door. It is rated R because I guess
they felt something this weird should not be PG-13. There was a tiny
bit of blood, some discussions of sex, and no nudity that I can
remember. I would not wish this show on anyone, but I should warn you
that it is so bad that many of you will love it claiming it is a cult
classic and marvelous satire. Good for you; go twice. I award the
show 1/2 of a star for a couple of funny lines.
Copyright © 1995 Steve Rhodes