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Falling in Love

When Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep first played opposite each other in 1978's The Deer Hunter, he was making his mark as an exceptional talent while she was still a supporting player with a decent resumé of TV appearances. When they faced up for 1984's Falling in Love, both had since established themselves as remarkable chameleons and powerhouses of their craft, winning Oscars for Raging Bull and Sophie's Choice, respectively. But the weight of expectation created by their imposing reputations crushed this small and unambitious movie about two married adults struggling with the attraction of infidelity. It's as if fate is driving Frank (DeNiro) and Molly (Streep) together — they ride they same train into Manhattan, they make calls from adjacent pay phones, they shop for Christmas gifts in the same bookstore, and in a comical collision, accidentally swap packages. However, it isn't until months later that they meet again and find their marital commitments tested. Or do they? The unique aspect to Ulu Grosbard's low-key drama is the seeming seriousness with which he and screenwriter Michael Cristofer address the concept of adultery. This isn't the flip, hot and heavy, impulsively "romantic" infidelity as seen in most Hollywood films, nor is it a carnival of melodramatics charged with teeth-gnashing and ultimatums. At first, Falling in Love is a serious and thoughtful examination of the real dilemmas of extramarital desire, but by the pat conclusion sells out its convictions with a convenient, easy-bake happy ending, shrugging off its conflicts with no worries. Both Streep and DeNiro are terrific (although there is some novelty, to be sure, in watching DeNiro employ his deliberative, threatening gestures in thoroughly mundane circumstances), but as such they deserve a truer resolution of the film's hypothesis. With Jane Kaczmarek as DeNiro's wife and Dianne Weist as Streep's promiscuous confidante. Paramount's DVD release of Falling in Love offers a good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) and monaural Dolby Digital audio. Trailer, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr



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