A Dangerous Woman

An unholy mess with strong compensationsabove all, Debra Winger’s remarkable transformation into the title heroine, an awkward, gangling, socially dysfunctional creature who moves and behaves in unpredictable ways. But as good as Winger is in the role, the movie doesn’t tell us nearly enough about her, and it’s equally unforthcoming about the character of the aunt (Barbara Hershey) who supports her. A somewhat more finished portrait is offered by Gabriel Byrne as the English handyman who becomes involved with both women, but he’s not enough to tie up all the dangling questions and issues. As a treatment of mental illness, the film seems to promise the radicalism of a Sweetie but winds up delivering something closer to Benny & Joon. Directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal (Waterland), and adapted by Naomi Foner from a novel by Mary McGarry Morris; with David Strathairn, Chloe Webb, John Terry, Jan Hooks, and Laurie Metcalf. (JR)

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