Forgotten Films

Nina Takes A Lover (1994)

Obviously one of those films were the synopsis is in the title. Laura San Giacomo (best known lately for the sitcom Just Shoot Me but before that, sex, lies and videotape and as Julia Robert's sarcastic best friend in Pretty Woman) is Nina, a shoe saleswoman in a passionless marriage who, whilst her husband disappears away for another three weeks on some business trip meets a photographer (Paul Rhys) in a park and begins a touching affair in which she feels fulfilled for the first time in years.

Both Nina and the photographer relate the story to a journalist collecting interviews about infidelity and the film is structured in flashback to those recollections. It's an approach which would later be repeated in the French romance Une Liaison Pornographique and like that film, the viewer is in the interviewer's position of having to make judgments about what exactly took place. Throughout, writer/director Alan Jacobs makes us aware that not everything is as it seems and this sensation is augmented by a parallel story in which Nina's friend also has an affair that is far more sordid and less romantic.

Giacomo's exquisite performance carries the majority of the film; she's adorable and if this film had been seen by a larger audience I'm sure it would have made her a star. The quirkiness factor here is of course the casting of Rhys as a romantic lead - for much of his career he's been typecast as emotional cripples but this demonstrates he once had the capacity for the romantic lead and the two of them lock together perfectly (so to speak). The only dull note is Fisher Stevens, whose comic turn as Nina's friend's lover is a bit too broad and now and then threatens to ruin the tone.

But on the whole, this is a clever film demonstrating that relationships are never easy, no one is perfect and how feelings can and do change over time. It's shot and edited very simply, the photography never allowed to crowd the performance, with a perfectly measured soundtrack mixing orchestral with jazz. The film has been released on dvd and vhs and been deleted on both, but there are copies floating around.

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