Monday, December 17, 2007

Critical Reactions: Maria's Lovers

Andrei Konchalovsky's MARIA'S LOVERS is one of the most remarkable and beautiful films in Nastassja's canon. It would be among her finest roles, and would be her last great English language role until ONE NIGHT STAND nearly ten years later. Reviews ranged from very good to decidedly mixed, as many critics noticed just how meticulous and tender this very special little film was. Here is a sampling of some critical reactions to the film:

"MARIA'S LOVERS is overwrought when a subtle, restrained treatment of the somewhat suspect material was imperative...still it is a must see for Nastassja Kinski fans everywhere."
-Ken Chanko, New Films In Review-

"An impeccable piece of vintage Americana...special and rewarding...disquieting authentic...Kinski is undeniably sensual...a fresh, liberating perspective and universality to a quintessentially American experience."
-Kevin Thomas, LA Times-

"It gives the impression of having taken years of planning was whisked to completion on a forty-one day's stretched too thinly across uncharted's magnificent reconstruction of the sounds, costumes, vehicles and settings of the period...still it just doesn't ring true."
-Philip Strick, Monthly Film Bulletin-

"MARIA'S LOVERS left me terminally seething..."
-John Coleman, New Statesman-

"MARIA'S LOVERS grows on you...sad and brooding...a fascinating curio...the acting is wonderful."
-Rex Reed, New York Post-

"Here's a pretty mess...disappointing but Kinski is especially good."
-Leo Seligsohn, Newsday-

"The keynote is honest simplicity...the film is justly proportioned...a success."
-John Pym, Sight and Sound-

"MARIA'S LOVERS sweats to become a poignant saga...but this movie is merely stiff..."
-Stephen Harvey, Village Voice-

"Kinski is radiant...she brings an immense vibrancy to the role of a small-town girl with many suitors, including one who becomes her father-in-law, in a rambling and populous story that is eventually less than the sum of its parts. However, as photographed by Juan Ruiz Anchia, Miss Kinski is even able to make a great deal out of a sequence in which she wears a damp, diaphanous housedress and scrubs the floor...Mr. Konchalovsky, who is capable of anything from sweeping emotional overstatement to attention-getting symbolism (a chair representing the Maria-Ivan union sits on that hilltop throughout most of the film) to Altmanesque clutter, has quite an eye for eccentric talent."
-Janet Maslin, New York Times-

"Maria's Lovers is a splendid film. It looks beautiful, it is well made in every aspect, it is well acted, it has a strong theme (which is a bit slow to develop, admittedly), and all of the film's elements support that theme. This wonderful kind of fusion is, of course, also possible in American films, but the style of Maria's Lovers is totally different from such films. Konchalovsky does things that no American director I know of would try, or likely even think of. Thus, in addition to being well made, Maria's Lovers is refreshingly different...Nastassja Kinski, for me at least, always seems to carry around an slight aura of both perversion and perversity. She tones this down, but doesn't completely eliminate it, in her role as Maria. While she is very strong in the part, it might have been better served by a more classically All-American girl. On the other hand, when Mitchum or Carradine talk about the beauty and mystery of her eyes, you know what they mean.
-Peter Reiher, Ficus-

"A compelling drama about the many terrible wounds, both physical and emotional, caused by violent social conflict."

"...Well performed....Konchalovsky's storytelling proceeds at a smooth pace..."

"A solid-looking piece of erotic drama that focuses on what’s going on below the surface (and below the belt)."
-Ryan Cracknell, Apollo-

"It may be Konchalovsky's own exile which makes some scenes waver on an edge of uncertainty, but there is still much to admire: filming the American heartlands so that they look like the Steppes is no mean achievement, nor is conjuring a very moving love scene between Mitchum and Kinski."
-Time Out-

"The photography is a treat and the film is well-made in general. Kinski is superb in this film. Carradine did an outstanding job as the guy who hustles his good looks and dubious musical skills into cash gigs in bars and into ladies' beds. Robert Mitchum as Savage's father rounds out a very good cast, which also included John Goodman and Vincent Spano. The plot is interesting as well, but not always pleasant to watch."


Rogue Spy 007 said...

I really enjoyed reading these quotes. I've never seen this film before. It sounds wonderful. Is it available on VHS or DVD? I look forward to your blogging on it.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Keith,
It is out on DVD...give it a look. I think it is a great film...

GAMERA_2004 said...

This has always been one of my favorite Kinski films. Koncholvasky is a gifted, if erratic director (I would strongly recommend his epic Siberiade), and of the several films he made in the US, I always thought that Maria's Lovers was the best.

There is a very 'Russian' quality to this film, and I always thought if this had been a subtitled film, the good review would have been even better.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Gamera,
I agree, it is one of my favorite Kinski films as well. It would have been interesting to see what the reaction would have been had it been a subtitled work...thanks for the comments