.

Swept Away

Madonna, Adriano Giannini

Directed by Guy Ritchie
Rolling Stone: star rating
5 1
Community: star rating
5 1 0
October 11, 2002

Guy Ritchie directs his wife — that would be Madonna — in a movie that casts her as a 24/7 ice-cold bitch who warms up only after a real man slaps, kicks and then sexually subjugates her: Kiss my feet. Suck my dick. Call me master. What's up with that? Let the marriage counselors weigh in. It's my job to deal with the movie, a remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1975 art-house hit Swept Away.

For starters, it blows. Madonna continues to mistake a knack for striking poses with the interpretive skill of a real actor. After a promising start in 1985's Desperately Seeking Susan, it's been pretty much turkeys: Shanghai Surprise, Who's That Girl, Body of Evidence, Dangerous Game, The Next Best Thing. And don't talk to me about Truth or Dare (she was playing herself) or her turn as a singing dictator in Evita (she was still playing herself).

In Swept Away, Madonna's Amber is the high-maintenance trophy wife of Tony (Bruce Greenwood), the tycoon who arranges a yacht trip from Greece to Italy for themselves and two other couples. For charity's sake, I won't smear the other actors by naming them — they're barely onscreen long enough to register.

The focus is on Amber and Giuseppe (hunky Adriano Giannini), the crew's resident fisherman. Amber calls him Pee-Pee and sniffs at him like she's smelling a rotting seafood platter. When the two end up alone on a desert island (don't ask), the S&M games serve as foreplay to — gasp! — true love.

Wertmuller used the capitalist wife (Mariangela Melato) and the communist deckhand (Giancarlo Giannini, daddy to Adriano) to play a witty game of power politics. Ritchie, far comfier with the laddie action of Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, dumps the politics. What's left is a non-PC movie bereft of irony and burdened with such acts of desperation as Madonna, wearing Versace, lip-syncing to Della Reese's "Come On-a My House." You'll see nothing scarier in Red Dragon.

Giannini is the lucky one. This is his first English-language film, and his words are mostly unintelligible. Madonna recites her husband's lines loud and clear. Near the end, he saddles her with a long, punishing closeup in which Amber is meant to veer from hope to ruin. Madonna just looks like her voguing wires shorted out. Audiences are likely to be slack-jawed. Note to boat fans: No yacht was harmed during shooting. It's the movie that's the shipwreck.

prev
Movie Review Main Next

ADD A COMMENT

Community Guidelines »
loading comments

loading comments...

COMMENTS

Sort by:
    Read More

    Movie Reviews

    More Reviews »
    Around the Web
    Powered By ZergNet
    Daily Newsletter

    Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

    Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
    marketing partners.

    X

    We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

    Song Stories

    “Bird on a Wire”

    Leonard Cohen | 1969

    While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

    More Song Stories entries »
    www.expandtheroom.com