The Substance Of Fire

I suspect that Jon Robin Baitz’s play, about a Holocaust survivor who’s become a stubbornly idealistic publisher of books about the Holocaust and an inflexible father, worked very effectively onstage. But despite a compelling opening, as a movie it loses focus and purpose as it proceeds. Whether this is due to miscalculations on the part of either Baitz (adapting his own work) or Daniel Sullivan (a stage director turning to film for the first time), or to meddling on the part of the distributor I can’t say, but in its present form it sheds more heat than light. The cast is good, but like me they seem to have trouble figuring out why they’ve been summoned. With Ron Rifkin, Timothy Hutton, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Tony Goldwyn. (JR)

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