Paramount Studios presents
Falling in Love (1984)
Frank: Listen, you, uh, will you be coming in tomorrow?Molly: No. Um, no. Frank: Oh. Molly: No. Frank: Yeah, I'm not...this is not...I wasn't trying to... Molly: Oh, I, yes.- Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep
Stars: Robert De Niro, Meryl Streep
Other Stars: Dianne Wiest, David Clennon, Jane Kaczmarek, George Martin, Harvey Keitel
Director: Ulu Grosbard
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for adult themes
Run Time: 01h: 46m: 19s
Release Date: 2002-01-15
DVD ReviewAs you might surmise from this movie's title and from the pull quote above, the unintentional lesson of Falling in Love is that even the inarticulate can fall head over heels. This is a pretty by-the-numbers, uninspired affair, especially dispiriting given the level of acting talent on hand. DeNiro plays Frank Raftis, a construction site manager, husband and father of two, who commutes to Manhattan on the Hudson River Line from Westchester. Streep is Molly Gilmore, a sometime graphic artist, who takes the train down to visit her hospitalized father. They obliviously cross paths for the first half hour, and much like the audience, seem to be waiting for something to happen. Early on especially, the movie is schematic without being charming. De Niro and Streep talk on adjacent payphones at Grand Central, or buy Christmas gifts for their respective spouses at Saks Fifth Avenue without taking notice of one another. The problem is that it's the same scene over and over, just moved to a different location. (It's hard not to think of a movie like Sleepless in Seattle, which at least provides variations on a similar central premise.) Each has a best friend and confidant—for Streep it's Dianne Wiest, for De Niro, Harvey Keitel—and each of course has a faithful, soon-to-be-betrayed spouse: Jane Kaczmarek, now of Malcolm in the Middle, and David Clennon, from thirtysomething and Once and Again. They finally, FINALLY meet cute at Rizzoli, a high-end bookstore just off of Fifth Avenue, and man, it's a long time coming. Oops—they inadvertently swap Christmas packages, so DeNiro's wife gets the book on sailing intended for Streep's husband, who gets a gardening book. Things proceed from there, and you'll probably find yourself way ahead of the movie, predicting turns of events long before they occur on screen. They're two of the best actors in movies, and Streep particularly is working it, but not even she can turn lead into gold. It's not hard to imagine what the filmmakers were going for—an early midlife glimpse at what might have been, a hypothetical life with a new partner that is more rewarding, more loving, more fun—but if that's the concept, the execution simply isn't here. Neither character seems desperately unhappy, living in the Cheever country of suburban ennui, and the movie never makes a persuasive case about just what draws them together. I suppose it's intended as sort of a bridge-and-tunnel Brief Encounter, but it just doesn't deliver the goods. The only answer to the obvious question—why are they drawn together?—is this: because they're movie stars, because their faces are on the poster. This is certainly in part because I've seen too many movies, but it's a little hard to take DeNiro at face value in this film. There's something downright menacing about his early scenes with Streep—"You flirtin' with me?"—and having been weaned on Mean Streets, to see DeNiro and Keitel in coats and ties at a business lunch just ain't right. Falling in Love also apparently takes place in that alternate universe, Movie New York, in which cabs and parking are abundantly available, in which there's no traffic—unless, of course, you're late—and where it's safe to cross the streets at a diagonal, even in crazily busy neighborhoods like Chinatown.
Rating for Style: C
Rating for Substance: C
|Aspect Ratio||1.85:1 - Widescreen|
|Original Aspect Ratio||yes|
Image Transfer Review: There's a fair amount of debris popping up in the transfer, which is generally uneven. The scenes shot outside fare better than the interiors, where the colors frequently bleed together. Generally, a good deal more care could have gone into the video presentation, and director Grosbard's inordinate fondness for swoosh pans as trains go rushing by can be a little nauseating on television.
Image Transfer Grade: C
Audio Transfer Review: The mono mix is limited, but clear enough. Dynamics are a little askew, however, as Dave Grusin's syrupy score is occasionally overpoweringly loud, especially under scenes of telephone conversations—there are a lot of them—and the offscreen voice from the other end of the call is nearly impossible to make out.
Audio Transfer Grade: C-
Disc ExtrasStatic menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
Extras Review: No extras. No trailer, no bios, nothing. Just fourteen skimpy chapter stops, with postage-stamp sized stills.
Extras Grade: D-
Final CommentsIf you've got a real DeNiro jones or are some sort of mad Streep completist, you may want to add this to your DVD collection. But there's not much to the movie, or to the disc—the actors certainly give better performances elsewhere, and the story isn't the three-hankie weepie it tries to be.
Jon Danziger 2002-01-22