|THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1999)|
|"Damn, I hate being a foregone conclusion."|
|Time: 113 mins.|
I'm kind of glad I didn't pay to see this in the theater because I'm sure I would've been disappointed. This is a film where all of the production value went into the look, casting and special effects with none of it going into the script. It's not a bad story, it's just a simple one. Beautiful woman, of dubious moral character chases after gorgeous financier, with equally dubious values, she believes stole a million dollar painting that her bosses want back. The whole movie is a mental and extremely sexual cat and mouse game. She's not going to stop until she get's her man, who it turns out isn't trying very hard to escape. Who's going to win? Maybe they both can. There's some interesting twists and turns along the way, as well as several sexual positions that would never happen in real life, that keep the story interesting and exciting. This is mind candy at it's best intelligent, sexy and fun, but completely forgettible.
The film begins with an elaborate heist of a million dollar Monet from one of New York's major museum's. The police believe they have the perpetrators in custody, but it soon turns out their prisoners were goons hired to distract attention from the true mastermind at work. They have no idea who this person is, but insuramce investigator Catherine Banning (Rene Russo) has a pretty good idea. She suspects Thomas Crown, a well-respected financier, who has at the museum and seemed to have motive. The police don't believe her. Why would he need to steal the art when he has enough money to buy it? Because buying it isn't a challenge. Stealing it right from under their noses however, that takes cunning and guts. She knows she's right and is going to stop at nothing to get her man. Fortunately for her, business soon leads to pleasure as she gets closer to her prey than the police would like. Mixing business with pleasure doesn't seem to be an issue for Catherine...that is until she starts to fall in love with Crown.
The feeling seem to be mutual, but there's something he's hiding besides the theft and Catherine is not happy when she discovers he's involved with another woman a stunning, young blond who has a habit of showing up at all the wrong moments. Even after a weekend away getting to know the real man, she doesn't know if she can actually trust him. She also has a job to do and even though she doesn't want to see him behind bars, she's compelled to follow this mystery to the end. What she doesn't know is that Crown hasn't been this excited by a relationship in his whole life and will do anything to keep the game going if it means keeping Catherine in his life. There's a lovely twist at the end that ties the story into a nice package, but is also very satisfying.
What surprised me most about this film is that it really is Rene Russo's show and she is great in it. Any suave, intelligent playboy could have played the role of Thomas Crown. There really wasn't much to it. You don't really get very involved in his character. The film centers on him and his activities, but that doesn't necessarily mean his is a well-rounded character. It's kind of Bond-lite, which disappointed me. Not enough to kill the enjoyment I take in watching Brosnan fill out a suit, but he should have demanded better. Russo on the other hand plays a strong, sexual woman who takes matters into her own hands and doesn't care whether people like it or not. She also had a vulnerable side. It was a pleasure to watch a fully-formed female character who doesn't get punished for being intelligent and sexual.
Though she's been in better films, this is her best role to date. Russo is an actress who deserves better choices and hopefully after this, she'll get them. She and Brosnan also have great chemistry, so that helps the picture along. It's also a treat to see actors of a comparable age in love scenes together. If you like sexy, caper films, you'll enjoy this movie. If you're a fan of either Brosnan or Russo, it's a definite must-see.