“All rich people are the same. They play funny little games.”
Times of ongoing quarantine call for a film that serves as an entertaining adventure, light comedy/romance, and a source of beautiful landscapes. The Netflix trailer for Swept Away (2002), a remake of Lina Wertmüller´s 1974 film, seemed promising with its blue Mediterranean scenery.
Directed by Guy Ritchie, the film stars Madonna as the spoiled, rich Amber, and Adriano Giannini (son of leading star Giancarlo Giannini from the 70’s production) as Giuseppe. He plays a communist deckhand, who has to endure Amber´s whims until fate makes tables turn. The clash between the struggling middle class and the capricious socialite millionaires is a given amidst passion, mishaps and the scorching sun.
In the film, the political aspect seems to be overlooked in favour of attraction. However, the chemistry between the two leads is borderline awkward and abusive. Even though, at times, Ritchie´s humorous screenwriting peeps through, it is drowned out by the lack of emotions. Flat lines are delivered here and there, while Madonna poses, rather than acts. The supporting actors are lost in the peripheral, left to their own devices.
The beautiful vistas and the wilted island, where the two protagonists run free, stomping on each other, are not enough to distract you from their cumbersome interactions. The rapidly changing dynamics should be welcome, but something is still off. The acting is either flat or over-the-top.
The blatant female subservience, the unconvincing romance, and Amber’s persistently unlikeable character demand closure that never comes. I had never seen a Madonna film before. So, like a virgin, I decided to watch the queen of pop for the very first time. No regrets, but lesson learned. She is far better at performing on an actual stage.
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