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The Dying Gaul (R)

Release Date: November 4th, 2005 (NYC-New Metro Twin, Clearview Chelsea 9, Landmark Sunshine Cinemas) by Strand Releasing.
The Cast: Peter Sarsgaard, Patricia Clarkson, Campbell Scott.
Directed by Craig Lucas.

BASIC PREMISE: Robert (Sarsgaard),a screenwriter, becomes part of a love triangle between Jeffrey(Scott),a studio development executive and Jeffrey's wife Elaine (Clarkson).

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: Writer-director Craig Lucas manages to get three strong performances out of a formulaic script with a predictable plot. Sarsgaard gives his best performance yet as Robert, a struggling independent screenwriter. When Jeffrey falls in love with his script--which is probably better than this script--he ends up falling in love with him, too. Soon Robert spends time sipping alcoholic beverages at Jeffrey's luxurious home which overlooks the beautiful blue ocean. Before you know it, they end up sleeping together. At that point, the plot becomes chaotic as Elaine pretends to be the soul of Robert's dead boyfriend through an Internet chat-room. Just like in a Shakespearean play, every character has his or her own flaws. Jeffrey comes across as a cold, manipulative, and confused man. Elaine is the most unlikable character, especially because of her chat-room deception and her actions in the Third Act. The only likeable character is Robert, but, unfortunately, his character is the least developed, so it's difficult to truly care about him. The picturesque, peaceful oceanfront setting is a nice contrast to the films underlying dark tone.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: Some people--not just in Hollywood--can be confused, manipulative, and deceptive. Robert learns this lesson the hard way as he gets tempted into a very awkward love triangle that has disaster written all over it. At one point, he confronts the death of his past lover, but in a very frightening way through Elaine's deceptive messages in a IM chat box. The Shakespearean ending is depressing, but comes off as too strong to be poignant or remotely moving.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Formulaic, predictable script.


THE BOTTOM LINE: Strong performances and beautiful locations don't save this film from its weak script that fails to make any of the characters real enough to care about them.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (2nd Run)

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