Under the Cherry Moon Reviews
Kristin Scott Thomas was a sweetheart and alittle overwhelmed with playing oppisite of a star like Prince it seemed. All and all- a good movie to curl up and watch on a rainy night with your lover.
under the cherry moon is prince at his most obnoxious. but still pretty funny.
christopher tracy's parade.
why all the hate?
not enough citizen kane for all the snobbish film critics.
Honestly, after Graffiti Bridge, I was very, very wary of trying this one on for size. I thought I should space out my Prince-watching a bit further so as to avoid being annoyed simply by the oversaturation of films with his name that bore such middling (acting) performances and writing. I shrugged tonight, though, and stuck the disc in anyway. We're immediately greeted by a voiceover telling us this is Christopher Tracy (Prince himself) playing the piano in front of us at a club, and that he is quite a ladies man (a gigolo, really, and he's called just that a few times during the movie) and cares for only money, and that he would do many things for many women, but for one he would die (I'd thought I'd ruined the movie a while ago reading about it, but apparently this is one of those sort of films that "ruins" itself, thereby implying this isn't ruination in the first place--unless you manage to forget it before the end). We then see him seducing a wealthy woman in white from his piano, overplaying the part to an effect that, combined with the voiceover, hopefully makes the viewer realize where Prince is coming from with this film, which I'll get to after I sort of lay out the essence of the plot for you here. We find out that Christopher lives with his friend Tricky (Jerome Benton, who has occasionally been a member of The Time) and the two of them work over bored or distracted widows, wives and divorcees to get money, which they plan on using to get back to Miami--because this film is set in France. The appearance of one Mary Sharon (Kristin Scott Thomas, in a very early role before ones in things like The English Patient or Altman's Gosford Park or Four Weddings and a Funeral) brings something new to the whole proceeding though, with the two of them competing to gain her affection, splitting their own partnership apart even as they both attempt to start a more permanent one (read: marriage) with her. As you might expect, after a clashing of mindsets from the "peasant" Christopher and the thoroughly wealthy and spoiled Mary, the two find themselves falling for each other, against the wishes of her father Isaac (Steven Berkoff, always good as a villain with those cold, arched eyes and that steely, thin-lipped countenance--perhaps most memorable as Victor Maitland in Beverly Hills Cop).
So, I referenced the idea that at the beginning we are told what kind of film this is. I established that, despite my affection for Prince's music, I do not fall easily into the trap of automatically liking his movies. However, once the film told me what was going on--this film is going to be a reference to silent and early film, and have a style melding that with modern sensibilities and dialects and Prince music, and it's going to be a comedy--I fell into it pretty throughly. The friendly chemistry between Prince and Benton is very engaging and entertaining, the two playing off each other wonderfully, and both playing off their victims--and Mary, their would-be victim--spectacularly. The timing is spot-on for all the comedy. If a joke falls flat, it's not too flat, and it's just not got that spark of complete surprise necessary for a true, full laugh (and I'm known to be quite picky about humour, so they may be just fine for you). Understanding all of that is important to watching this film. Every negative review I skimmed or read just before writing this sounded like they just wanted to beat up on Prince for being an egomaniac. OK, yes, he's an egomaniac. Maybe he's got a Napoleon complex (if you never realized he's about five foot nothing, bear in mind he's almost always wearing heels of some variety). Regardless, the man is talented. Sorry to all you pissy reviewers, but in fact that talent includes directing. Mary Lambert (she of the Pet Sematarys) was originally slated to helm this film, but Prince fired her, which he could do because it was filmed in France (aha! I knew that was important!) and kept her on only as "creative consultant." Strangely, I hear her name and think of the highly talented female director Mary Harron almost every time (sorry, Lambert is NOT highly talented from what I've seen)--which only became weirder when the lead female character is named "Mary Sharon." But I'm getting way off topic here.
People also criticize the strange pseudo-homoerotic element of Christopher and Tricky's relationship. Um, and...? So what? I really don't understand the fuss. Then again, I don't really understand the fuss over that in most contexts, so maybe I'm the wrong person to ask. It doesn't seem accidental, so the haughty, snotty reviewers acting like it's "slipping out" are just pushing even harder against my belief that they really didn't understand this movie. And really, it's not some massive amazing work of art, so that's not so much a pretentious cop-out rebuttal as an outright insult. You'd have to be pretty uncultured or stupid not to get this movie. You can like it or not like it, that's jim-dandy. But if you sit there and say that he's overacting and it's hilarious that it seems like there's "something going on"--you didn't get it. We're set up with a voiceover to tell us this is a fairy tale of sorts. That's the whole point. It's not reality, it's film, and it's not even supposed to be "realistic" (let alone cinema verité), so sneeringly pointing these things out makes you look like an idiot, like you think you uncovered a dirty secret that wasn't even a secret, nevermind dirty. I've seen an almost reverse appear--with Ebert talking about the "hidden satire" of Evil Dead 2. It's not hidden. It's the entire point.
This film is fun. It's in black and white not to "pompously" associate itself with Scorsese and Lynch as some fool said (what, they have a monopoly on choosing black and white now?!) but rather a way of further bringing it into the timeframe and setting it is intended to relate to. The cars and much of the dress furthers this, but naturally there are complete violations, usually perpetrated by Christopher and Tricky. But that's also intentional--they are a violation of the mandates and customs of the world we're seeing them barge into. Yeah, ok, Prince just has a weird sense of fashion, too, and yes, again, he's an egomaniac, but he's got something to back it up, unlike the goofball reviewers.
Ahem. Sorry. I've completely derailed myself here, but it really irritates me when criticism of a movie is so blatantly, ridiculously ignorant. And this one doesn't even take much. If it took a lot of background knowledge to understand what was going on here, I'd understand, but this is really very simple and it's all right out there. If you get your jollies poking holes in Prince's ego (he shuts down his own fansites, do you really think he gives a crap what some stupid reviewer says?) then--hey, have fun, but please try to have some ground to stand on. Sheesh.