The west coast’s answer to Woody Allen, Henry Jaglom lacks Woody’s verbal wit, but has tons of New Age understanding and 60s references to movies being movies to replace it with. Here he plays an independent writer-director-actor very much like himself at the 1989 Venice film festival, where he runs into an English former lover and leading lady (Suzanne Bertish) and embarks on a romance with a young French journalist (Nelly Alard) whose seriousness is certified by her being obsessed with his work. The self-infatuation on view is so thick you couldn’t cut it with a chain saw, and when the movie shifts to Venice, California, where the smitten French beauty follows the filmmaker, the society of admirers (including the filmmaker’s then-current girlfriend, Melissa Leo)all talking and acting with the same flaky earnestnessgets even gooier. Threaded through all this are talking-head interviews with real women about the failure of real-life romance to match up with movie romance; Jaglom cuts them together as if they’re the same person, yet another version of his wistful self repeating more or less the same glib homilies found in Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?, Always, and Someone to Love. Don’t expect to find any curiosity about people or places here; the film makes it pretty clear at the outset that Jaglom is so much in touch with his own feelings that he has little left to learn about either movies or the human condition (1992). (JR)

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