Three of Hearts

Before losing nerve, this comedy looks primed to give Hollywood romance a bracing shake-up. Ellen (Sherilyn Fenn), a bisexual teaching assistant at NYU, is moving out on Connie (Kelly Lynch), a lesbian nurse. Connie is devastated; at her sister's wedding she had planned to introduce her family to the woman she loves. Instead, she hires a male escort, Joe (William Baldwin), to take her to the reception. The two develop an easy, asexual rapport. Later, Connie lets Joe hide out in her apartment – he's dodging a mobster. She also asks Joe to make a play for Ellen; that way, when he dumps her, Ellen will realize men are shits and come home.

The script, by Mitch Glazer and Adam Greenman (a former escort himself), is the same old triangle gussied up with some hip erotic trappings. But the actors, buoyed by the light touch of Polish director Yurek Bogayevicz (Anna), seem eager to create something unique. They almost succeed. Lynch hasn't been this dynamic since Drugstore Cowboy; her sassy byplay with the magnetic Baldwin is a treat. And her feelings for Ellen, an underwritten part played by a sweetly unfocused Fenn, are believable and touching.

Then conventionality moves in. A mainstream movie that rooted for a woman to get together with another woman instead of a man might have created some useful tremors. But suddenly it's Baldwin and Fenn playing Rock Hudson and Doris Day, with Lynch reduced to the Tony Randall sidekick role. A Nineties love story degenerates into a Fifties cop-out.

From The Archives Issue 657: May 27, 1993