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Final Analysis

It takes guts for Richard Gere and Kim Basinger to reunite for this opulently produced thriller. Maybe they figure audiences will forget their 1986 cop-and-babe-on-the-bayou debacle No Mercy. Not bloody likely, especially since they fare even worse in this shrink-and-babe-on-the-Golden Gate stinkeroo. It’s not that the two stars don’t look terrific. Playing San Francisco psychiatrist Isaac Barr, Gere does wonders for his Giorgio Armani wardrobe. And as Heather Evans – the sister of Dr. Bait’s sexually neurotic patient Diana Baylor (Uma Thurman) – Basinger slips in and out of her swank costumes with the skill of a runway model. It’s a pity the same care wasn’t lavished on their performances. Both actors have been impressive before – Gere as recently as Internal Affairs and Basinger further back in Nadine – but together they generate the heat of a fashion layout. Emotions slide off of them. When Basinger makes her back-lit entrance, all you see is her hair, a splendiferous blond special effect that receives the awed attention of the mother ship’s landing in Spielberg’s Close Encounters.

The film also represents a low point for writer Wesley Strick (Cape Fear) and director Phil Joanou (State of Grace), whose previous work has been marked by fierce intelligence. Final Analysis is a cheap gloss on Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Vertigo, in which Jimmy Stewart’s obsession with the unattainable Kim Novak calls into question the nature of illusion and reality. Dr. Barr attains Heather in a snap, despite her jealous gangster husband, Jimmy (a creepy Eric Roberts). There are gimmicks galore: incest, betrayal, murder and my favorite, pathological intoxication. Heather suffers from it – one sip of alcohol, even in medicine, and she’s out of control. Final Analysis suffers from something much worse: terminal shallowness.

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