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SWEPT AWAY

Review by Gordon Justesen

Stars: Madonna, Adriano Giannini, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Bruce Greenwood
Director: Guy Ritchie
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1, French Dolby Surround
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 1.85:1
Studio: Columbia Tri Star
Features: See Review
Length: 89 Minutes
Release Date: February 11, 2003

"We are lost on a deserted island."

"That's impossible, you idiot."

Film *

Ever since I have had the pleasure of reviewing films for this web site, many of you may note that I have courageously stood up for movies that I strongly felt were seriously mistreated by either the critics who blasted it, or by the movie-going audience who ignored it during its initial theatrical release. Such examples are movies like 3000 Miles to Graceland, Dragonfly, Pearl Harbor and even some recent DVD releases like Formula 51, Serving Sara and Simone. So I accepted the opportunity to take a look at and review possibly the worst reviewed movie of this past year, Swept Away. My main reason for choosing this is my admiration for the movie's director, Guy Ritchie, whose two previous entries, Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch are two of my favorite films to come from England. Sadly, this was a rare case where everything said about a movie was true before my very eyes, as Swept Away will go on record as one of the truly worst films of last year.

The movie is a remake of what I am positive is a much better film from Italy about a rich wench and a not so lucky server lost on a deserted island together. Having never seen the original version, I can't offer an analysis on how the characters were portrayed, but they are presented here as two of the most irritating and unlikable individuals I've seen in any movie. The story has rich, snotty socialite Amber (Madonna) and Italian fisherman Giuseppe (Adriano Giannini) stranded together on a deserted island in the aftermath of a storm. Prior to this, Amber, her husband, and some friends were sailing on a cruise, where Giuseppe was pretty much made into a slave by the bitter Amber. Now that they have found themselves stuck with each other indefinitely, she will need to depend on him for survival skills. It's needless to say that the effect here is something way, way less than that of Cast Away.

A movie like this is based primarily on chemistry, which the two leads stars fail to strike, and when it is actually attempted it doesn't even make much sense. Once stranded on the island, Amber and Giuseppe engage in endless slapping contests, which grow irritating by the minute. Then eventually, as a law of conventional movies, they must fall madly in love with each other midway through. For a movie that has a running time of 89 minutes, this feels more like an unwanted eternity.

What offended me most were the movie's concluding moments, which will likely have each viewer's jaw drop completely to the floor. After everything we've seen these two characters go through, whether it was pleasant or not, why on earth was an ironic twist put on the film's closing segment, which for me contradicts the entire purpose of a love story between the two.

Although I clearly have a distaste for the movie, I will still standby Guy Ritchie as a director, though I think he should stick to his usual Pulp Fiction-esque tales of lowlifes in the London ghetto, which are far more enjoyable than this rubbish. Ritchie does manage to maintain a visual flair here, and does strike a couple of interesting scenes, including one where Giuseppe fantasizes attacking Amber with food, and another fantasy scene where he visualizes Amber singing and performing in a much glitzier fashion.

As for Madonna, who also happens to be Mrs. Ritchie, this is not one of her better times on screen. I know she can act, but her turn here represents perhaps another career low point. I hate to pan someone like Madonna, since I fell in love with her ever since I first saw her video for Borderline. But as for her acting, she fared a whole lot better in her two-minute cameo in Die Another Day than in here.

Video ***1/2

I mentioned Guy Ritchie's flair for visual style, and the video presentation delivered by Columbia Tri Star does the movie some good justice. The anamorphic picture is bright, lively, and clear nearly all of the way through. The scenes on the deserted island fare the best of them all.

Audio ***

This is mostly a dialogue driven film, but the 5.1 mix does happen to include a number of exercises in superb sound. The standout moment of the presentation is the music number Madonna does in one of the fantasy scenes, which is delivered in remarkable clarity. Dialogue is heard in a clear tone as well.

Features ***

Included on this disc is a running commentary from Guy Ritchie and producer Matthew Vaughn, a much interesting featurette that has Guy Ritchie and Madonna striking a unique interview with one another, 16 deleted scenes with optional director commentary, and trailers for this film, as well as Punch-Drunk Love, Snatch, and Maid in Manhattan.

Summary:

I still have loads of admiration for Guy Ritchie as a filmmaker, but Swept Away is clearly no Snatch, and will hopefully be the last and only stitch in the writer/director's career.