The Triumph of Love

The Triumph of Love, a cross-dressing farce, puts a princess (a spirited Mira Sorvino) in boy drag to gain proximity to a stud (Jay Rodan) who made her near-orgasmic when she peeked at him naked. It's not a gay thing. The stud hasn't had sex with anyone. He's been sheltered from a fuck-mad world by a tight-assed philosopher (Ben Kingsley) and his scientist sister (Fiona Shaw). But Sorvino's leggy seductress turns them all into horndogs. Don't mistake this sensual romp for another Sorority Boys in which three dudes tease their hair and totter on heels to scam free campus housing. Director Clare Peploe, who wrote the script with her filmmaker/legend husband Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor), is too classy for sniggering sex jokes. Her source material is an eighteenth-century play by Pierre Marivaux that knows love makes fools of us all, royal-born or not. But — and it's a big, fat but — Peploe's smarts and the deft performances (Kingsley and Shaw shine) can't compensate for the fact that what we're watching, however charming, is a fancifully costumed theater piece that cuts off the oxygen needed to make a play breathe onscreen.

From The Archives Issue 336: February 5, 1981