'Just Like a Woman' is crass dressing

October 28, 1994|By Stephen Hunter | Stephen Hunter,Sun Film Critic

I dearly love the Charles and wish it no ill, so it gives me no pleasure to report that "Just Like A Woman" is, not to put too fine a shading on it, the pits.

A vulgar, slow and manipulative British comedy-drama on the subject of cross dressing, it makes "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" seem like "Citizen Kane." Of its many sins, the worst by far is the contempt it has for an audience: It thinks we're so stupid.

The movie turns on a thin young American banker named Gerald (Adrian Pasdar), who lives with his wife and kids in London. One day, they return from a trip unexpectedly. Discovering women's underwear hanging in the bathroom, his wife leaps to a conclusion and tosses him out.

He gets lodging in a boardinghouse run by Monica (Julie Walters), who develops a crush on him but is disturbed to see . . . a thin woman creeping out of his room every night late and returning in the wee hours.

The director, Christopher Monger, lets this situation play out for what seems like hours in a vain hope to nurse a dollop or two of suspense from it, far beyond the patience of even the dumbest in the audience. Doesn't he think we know the name of the movie?

Once Gerald's transvestism is acknowledged, the movie turns out to be a mild little comedy about an unconventional affair (between Gerald and Monica) with a business subplot poorly incorporated. It does ask one novel question: If a woman (Walters) goes to bed with a man who is dressed like a woman and acting like a woman . . . is she a lesbian?

Of course it doesn't answer.

I think the movie would have been helped by using a real transvestite in the central role, instead of American actor Pasdar. Somehow one senses him holding back; he's not willing, quite, to go the whole nine yards, as was Terence Stamp in "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." That harms the film, as does the insistence that men dressed in women's clothes are, without further polish, funny.

I should mention that "Just Like A Woman" is playing in rotation with "Too Outrageous Animation," a compilation of animated bad taste.

"Just Like a Woman"

Starring Julie Walters and Adrian Pasdar

Directed by Christopher Monger

Released by Goldwyn

Unrated

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