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aka - Heaven Has No Favourites
USA 1977
Directed by
Sydney Pollack
124 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Bobby Deerfield

Don't be put out by the general context for this film - Formula 1 racing. It's largely a distant background for an account of the romance between Al Pacino's race driver, Bobby Deerfield, and Marthe Keller's terminally ill haute-bourgeoisie, Lillian Morelli.  Adapted by veteran screenwriter Alvin Sargant (his best known work was for Robert Redford’s 1980 Oscar-winner Ordinary People) from a story by Erich Maria Remarque, it is an undeservedly neglected film in both Pacino’s and Pollack’s catalogues.

Although in hindsight there are some corny period-typical touches such as Deerfield jogging, complete with headband, and a montage of the happy couple at home, it is difficult to see why the film was generally panned at the time of its release. Typical of Pollack, whose sensibility is closer to his European contemporaries (it is set largely in Italy) than his Hollywood colleagues, it is skilfully and unobtrusively directed, but is more concerned with the characters' motivations and the nature of their relationships (both Pacino and Keller give compelling performances) than narrative which tends to get short shrift (French actress Anny Duperey and the sub-plot of mechanical difficulties with Deerfield’s car are only intermittently seen).

Perhaps for American audiences who would have preferred a Steve McQueen (or even Elvis Presley) take on the subject this was enough to unfairly dismiss this intelligently-handled drama. 





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