Cher goes slumming in cliche-filled 'Faithful'

April 03, 1996|By Chris Kaltenbach | Chris Kaltenbach,SUN STAFF

Cher has been away from the movies for a few years now, and she chooses to come back via . . . this?

Bad career move. If this is the sort of movie she'd been making until now, she'd have no career to come back to.

That Cher pretty much slums her way through "Faithful" is possibly the least of its problems. Her co-stars fare little better: Chazz Palminteri, who wrote the screenplay, is undone by his own words, which may have looked good on paper, but are no more than cliche after cliche on the screen. He's a better actor than this. As for Ryan O'Neal . . . well, he's not a better actor than this. His face seems to know one acting pose, a sort of "Why is this happening to me, and what can I do about it?" grimace that wears real thin real quick.

But "Faithful" has so many things going against it that bad acting (and Cher's not really bad, she's just hardly there) seems like only a minor irritant.

She and O'Neal play Margaret and Jack, a loveless couple who celebrate their 20th anniversary by staying a couple hundred miles apart. Both have had enough of the relationship.

Margaret responds by sinking into a depth of lethargy seldom encountered; she doesn't even care enough to do herself in.

Jack, at least, decides to do something: He hires a hit man (Palminteri) to off her so he can marry his curvaceous office assistant.

Palminteri has scripted his part as though he were a PR flack for the hit man's union. Tony's smart and honorable and clever and single-minded, if a little mixed-up (he's been seeing a therapist for a few years, blithely telling his shrink about life as a hit man).

Of course, it would be too easy for our friend to simply come in, whip out his pistol and blow Margaret away (even though it would make for a much shorter movie, a definite plus). No, he has to wait until Jack calls from a safe distance away, to ensure a plausible alibi.

So he decides to wile away the hours by tying Cher to a chair and talking. And talking. And talking.

Did I mention that he does a lot of talking?

And then -- and if you couldn't predict this, you don't watch enough movies -- they fall in love.

By this time, audience members are far too busy looking at their watches to notice much of anything on the screen.

Other problems? There's nobody up on the screen we care about, so it's hard to become attached to the film. The jokes -- rumor has it this was supposed to be a black comedy -- fall flat. And Mr. Hit Man, who claims to be an expert in his field, keeps calling his therapist using the victim's telephone. Seems to me a murderer who keeps using his victim's telephone is not going to stay in the business very long.

The best things about "Faithful" are the trailers and TV commercials promoting it. On them, you'll hear the film's best lines, learn pretty much what the film is about, see what Cher looks like these days and save yourself about 90 minutes in a darkened theater wondering why your free time isn't more valuable than this.

'Faithful'

Starring Cher, Chazz Palminteri and Ryan O'Neal

Directed by Paul Mazursky

Released by New Line Cinema

Rated R

Sun score * 1/2

Pub Date: 4/03/96

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