[box cover]

Rough Magic

The only unpredictable element of this formulaic 1995 romance-fantasy is just how insipidly awful it is. Bridget Fonda stars in Rough Magic as a magician's assistant implausibly chosen as an ornamental wife to add respectability to an unscrupulous politician. Following a contrived homicide, she flees her fiancé to Mexico, where she falls in love with a pre-ass-kicking Russell Crowe and communes with an age-old mystic who unlocks the power of her inner-magic. Fonda and Crowe provide Rough Magic's only redeeming qualities — and this despite both actors giving their worst-ever performances. The noir-ish banter between the two is painfully dull and pathetic, Crowe's (Chicago?) accent is terrible, and director Clare Peploe shows absolutely no dexterity with character, pacing, aesthetics, or tone. Every plot turn is utterly trite, while the elements of Magic Realism in the film are gaggingly stupid. Perhaps this film will appeal to lonely women aching for a cheap knockoff of Like Water for Chocolate, but even the Crowe-factor is unlikely to salvage this mess. Rough Magic went unreleased in the U.S. until 1997, when it managed to gross less than $0.5 million. An absolute dud. And perhaps Columbia TriStar understands that Rough Magic is a lost cause, as it's presented in a poor "full screen" (pan-and-scan) transfer with muddy color definition and a grainy lack of sharpness. Audio is in Dolby 2.0 Surround. Trailer, keep-case.
—Gregory P. Dorr

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