EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|DEATH WATCH (LA MORT EN DIRECT) (director/writer: Bertrand Tavernier; screenwriters: David Rayfiel/based on the novel ''The Unsleeping Eye'' by David Compton; cinematographer: Pierre-William Glenn; editors: Armand Psenny/Michael Ellis; music: Antoine Duhamel; cast: Romy Schneider (Katherine Mortenhoe), Harvey Keitel (Roddy), Harry Dean (Vincent Ferriman), Therese Liotard (Stanton Tracey), Max von Sydow (Gerald Mortenhoe); Runtime: 128; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Gabriel Boustani/Janine Rubeiz; Quartet Films; 1980-West Germany/France- in English)|
promising but ultimately disappointing sci-fi futuristic drama."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
French filmmaker Bertrand
Tavernier ("Beatrice"/"Sunday in the Country"/"Life and
Nothing But") directs his first English language film.
It's a promising but ultimately disappointing sci-fi futuristic drama
whose premise is that death by illness has been removed from the
public's sight because of the advances of science and only through
aging do people now pass on. Opportunistic TV network producer Vincent Ferriman (Harry
Dean) hopes to capitalize on
the public's curiosity of a death by illness by having the network's
ace reporter Roddy (Harvey Keitel) have a miniature camera
surgically implanted in his left eye
to record everything he sees of
the death watch (the show's title) of a terminally ill patient
(suffering from what we are told is boredom, as her illness is really
only a hoax). Katherine Mortenhoe (Romy Schneider) is the terminally
ill subject who has a useless existence working in a publishing-house
turning out trashy romantic novels on her computer. The reality
documentary TV show is seen by the filmmaker as a prime example of how
the media manipulates the public and creates exploitative news stories
of questionable taste, where "everything
is of interest, but nothing matters." Katherine agreed to sign the contract, but at the
last minute has a change of mind and flees the city for the remote
countryside with the reporter, posing as a helpful friend, in pursuit
to get her death on TV with or without her permission. Needless to say
problems arise when the reporter falls for the beauty and when he
realizes his privacy is also being invaded when he can't shut off the
The future city where the
melodrama is set is
von Sydow has a cameo in the final acts as Katherine's
former husband, a philisophical musicologist who lives a solitary life
at Land's End in Cornwall.
Under the weak direction of Tavernier, the pic turns preachy and has little bite
in going after the amoral rating conscious media.
It's based on the novel ''The Unsleeping Eye'' by David Compton and is written by David Rayfiel.
REVIEWED ON 12/30/2010 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ