When Will I Be Loved (1/10)

Copyright © 2004 by Tony Medley

I saw this at Raleigh Studios. As I was exiting through the guard gate, one of the guards said, “Didn’t like that one, huh?” I asked if it was that obvious and both guards laughed. The people behind me apparently had the same expression on their faces.

While this is represented as a “new kind of noir,” it’s actually just nihilistic nonsense. Apparently it wasn’t enough for James Toback to direct it, he also gave himself a part. If this is any example of his filmmaking, he better make sure his SAG card is current. There is no script credit and it appears when you watch the film (which I certainly don’t advise) that most of the dialogue is ad lib.

Vera Barrie (Neve Campbell) is a 23 year-old multi-orgasmic, sexually oriented, prevaricating slut, although she’s represented as being extremely smart. The film starts with her stark naked taking a shower, after which she pleasures herself with a vibrator. Then she has sex with her girl friend. Then she has either doggy style or anal intercourse (impossible to determine which) with her boy friend, Ford Welles (Frederick Weller), who is a lowlife street hustler. Weller's performance is the only good thing in the movie. They do it fully clothed, which is a trick. This scene lasts for what seems like seven minutes, a front shot of the two of them, with her slowly coming to orgasm. This scene stands for the proposition that visual sex can be truly boring. Then she has sex with 69 year-old Count Tommaso Lupo (Dominic Chianese). And it’s still only mid-afternoon! This woman has a libido that won’t stop. The dialogue accepts all these sexual dalliances without affection or involvement or commitment as normal.

The way Toback presents the Count as a billionaire entrepreneur is ludicrous. Apparently Toback has never come in contact with a real entrepreneur, so he invents something that telegraphs his ignorance. The scenes of the Count with his entourage are laughably ridiculous. To think that someone like the Count (think Ari Onassis) would spend as much as one second with a cheap street hustler like Ford is beyond fantasy. For a film as repugnant as this, the scenes of him and his entourage walking around the streets of New York with him barking orders constituted the part that was the most offensive to me because when I was practicing law I negotiated with Ari Onassis the last deal into which he entered before he died, for the construction of a 100,000 barrel a day oil refinery in Nova Scotia. These scenes, and the character, actions, and dialogue of the Count, are so divorced from reality as to be beyond incredible.

This is a low class story of low class people with low class morals acting as middle class imposters. Vera is supposed to be a “hip, scintillating, post-feminist” woman, but as she’s having an interview with the Professor (Toback), she hits on two strange men she encounters on the street, and then lies that she knows them, hardly things that would endear an interviewee to an interviewer. Are we to believe that all “hip, scintillating, post-feminist” women are this stupid?

How idiotic is this movie? The Count apparently saw Vera across a crowded room and wanted to fly to her side, so he somehow enlisted Ford, a cheap, scummy street hustler, to introduce them. Can you imagine Ari Onassis wanting to meet a girl and asking some bum to introduce them? Elephants will fly first. But that’s what we’re to believe. When The Count finally does get introduced to Vera, the dialogue between the two is such drivel that it’s hard to believe that even someone as obviously obtuse as Toback could foist it on an audience. 

There is not one character in this movie, other than Ford, who is believable. Vera’s mother, Alexandra (Karen Allen), who looks like an emaciated immigrant from the ‘60s, uses the “F” word in a normal conversation among her, her husband, and daughter. Enough on this rubbish. Waste your time on this at your peril.

September 2, 2004

The End