Vital Signs

Screen – A Film Vacuum

Falling in Love, Directed by Ulu Grosbard; Written by Michael Cristofer; Paramount Pictures.

Anyone who believes that an actor or an actress "makes" a film should sit through Falling in Love. Twice. Once for Robert De Niro. Once for Meryl Streep. Those two, certainly, are among the finest American players in the cinema. De Niro, whose eyes can shift from laughter to concern in an instant, and Streep, who is able to make the trip from innocence to expe­rience and back, are, quite simply, the two leading performers of their generation–if only for their scenes together in The Deer Hunter.

In Falling in Love, De Niro plays a contractor who builds high rises in New York City–an honest, down-to­ earth guy. Streep is a free-lance com­mercial artist who does pastel render­ings fit only for menu covers in fern bars that specialize in spritzers. He is married and the father of two. She is also married but childless; she and her husband lost a baby soon after birth. Both families live in the suburbs–but not the cookie-cutter variety.

Writer Michael Cristofer and direc­tor Ulu Grosbard must get Frank and Molly together. They do so through contrivance after contrivance. The im­plausibility breeds impatience. Given the obvious outcome–the title is, after all, Falling in Love–the amaz­ing...

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