A Business Affair (1994)


Crass but high powered American Vanni Corso (Christopher Walken) buys into British publishing and sets out to seduce high integrity/low income literary man Alec Bolton (Jonathan Pryce) to his line, taking time out to make a play for Bolton's neglected wife, floor model Kate Sparrow (Carole Bouquet). When Kate announces she too has written a novel, Alec goes mildly ballistic and becomes so unreasonable his wife succumbs to Vanni's advances and also lets him publish her book. However, no sooner have partners been changed, than Vanni acts like as big a dickweed as Alec, browbeaten by his appalling Sicilian mama and equivocating over Kate's second novel, a potential best seller. With which of these rather unappealing men will the self willed Kate end up? And is it possible to like the rather brassy heroine enough to care?

Made under the peculiar misconception that there was something sexy about the publishing business, this romantic comedy hops on the relationship merry go round for a few turns of the plot but more or less ends up where it started. Walken, with dyed hair and his usual scary smile, is a more satanic presence than the script calls for, but his hard headed businessman turns out to be just another mother dominated softie. Pryce, going into hysterics whenever his dialogue fails him, is hardly more convincing as a genius whose talent we have to take on trust, especially since he seems outside his work to be such a small minded wimp. And Bouquet, called upon frequently to expose her perfect haunches, is a blank centre, hardly able to carry the emotional weight the woman director wants to pile on her.

With touristy locations in London and Spain and lots of in jokes about publishing that are hardly likely to travel much beyond Bloomsbury, this perks up occasionally when the odd good line slips out or Sheila Hancock is allowed to be funny as Walken's old style secretary. An empty Euro production, with stars calculated to get sales in different territories, this might scrape by as a direct to video release but it seems on the doomed side in theatres.
KIM NEWMAN

First Published In: Empire (issue unknown)


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