Gere Caught In The Headlights

VINCENT EASTMAN (RICHARD GERE) IS a man who can't make up his mind, If which doesn't exactly make him Hamlet. A successful 42-year-old Vancouver architect, Vincent is at a crossroads in his life--hence the title, Intersection, of Mark Rydell's movie. Though separated from his wealthy, coolly beautiful wife (Sharon Stone) and living with an adoring and warmly beautiful journalist (Lolita Davidovich), Vincent is unwilling to let go of his old life or fully embrace his new one. Since the film opens with Vincent's catastrophic car crash--the outcome of which is withheld until the end--the subsequent account of our hero's glamorously disheveled life and loves is meant to achieve poignancy in the shadow of mortality.

Actually, it's hard to know what to make of this glossy romantic triangle, or to work up much concern about its selfish and opportunistic hero. In transposing Claude Sautet's 1970 French movie "The Things of Life"--a film about the banality and allure of bourgeois comforts--into Hollywoodese, director Rydell and screenwriters David Rayfiel and Marshall Brickman seem uncertain of their own point of view. Are we meant to find Vincent as irresistible as the women do, or to criticize his waffling? Gere's movie-star presence confuses the issue further. His "sensitive" mannerisms blinking and closing his eyes to convey deep thoughtfulness, rippling his jawbone to connote inner turmoil--are so familiar and so self-regarding it is impossible to tell whether the narcissism he radiates is an aspect of Vincent's character or simply Gere posturing for sympathy. From the way Rydell's camera dotes on his moods, we guess the latter.

"Intersection" pretends to be a movie of grown-up, middle-aged concerns, but it plays like a rather dull and pointless soap opera. Everything that should be precise, matter-of-fact and quotidian is made slightly larger, and falser, than life. There's a moment of epiphany that enables Vincent to realize his heart's true calling, but it is hard to imagine the viewer who will swallow it with a straight face. The one very pleasant surprise of "Intersection" is Stone's sharply etched portrait of Gere's wife and business partner, a brittle, unspontaneous woman in whom one can see the spoiled, giggly rich girl she once was. Stone alone creates a character--Gere and Davidovich just want to win us over. To what, we have to wonder?