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Amateur
USA 1994
Directed by Hal Hartley
Running time 105 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars


With Amateur Hal Hartley takes on the crime thriller genre, albeit with the same mannered dialogue and Nouvelle Vague irony but with an overly self-conscious absurdism

The story concerns Thomas (Hartley regular, Martin Donovan) who has lost his memory after he has been pushed out a window by his porn star wife (Elina Löwensohn, another Hartley regular).  He stumbles into a nearby coffee shop where he is befriended by Isabelle (a particularly dowdy-looking Isabelle Huppert who apparently asked Hartley to cast her on the basis of his Godardian stylings), a former nun and would-be nymphomaniac who makes a living writing pornographic fiction. Meanwhile a European arms dealer is chasing some floppy disks that he believes Thomas, who until losing his memory had been a very bad man, possesses.

This Elmore Leonard-ish story about drugs, seedy sex, murder and corruption could have had zing had it been made by a director willing to make it as a neo-noir. Unfortunately Hartley goes hell-for-leather with the Godardian treatment that overwhelms the potential of the plot and the result is a phenomenally tedious exercise in soi-disant cleverness. However it might have seemed on paper to the writer-director it’s not clever, it’s not stylish it's not amusing but it is boring and at time embarrassingly gauche. From the opening scene onwards you can take your pick which moments are the most awful, there's plenty to choose from.

 

 

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