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Saturday, Nov. 4, 2000

'PASSION OF MIND'

Double the fun with none of the trouble


I've always thought that the only people who have as much fun as Demi Moore are Tokyo high-school girls, but now I stand corrected.

No one on the entire planet can have as much fun as Demi Moore. If you shrunk her, flattened her and popped her into the boom box, the number that would blare is bound to be "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

What other actress shaves her head onscreen and shouts "suck my d**k?" ("G.I. Jane"). Or plays a stripper, bares her bod and ropes in her 7-year-old daughter to say a line like "Mommy, you were beautiful!" ("Striptease") To see a Demi movie is to realize this fact: Good girls die and go to heaven, but Demi goes places when she's alive.

Her latest vehicle confirms this with a vengeance. In "Passion of Mind," Demi goes back and forth between two delicious lives in New York and Provence, all in the course of a single night. How's that for mobility? In this movie she's both Marie, a widowed mom with two darling daughters in a Provencal cottage avec garden, and Marty, a literary agent in New York with all the New York trimmings: loft, slavish secretary and psychiatrist. Marie goes to bed at night but wakes up in the morning as Marty, and the next day she's Marie again. Both lives seem so real that she can't tell one from the other and confesses her plight to shrinks in both places. All the two doctors can do, however, is reassure her that this is the real life and he is the real doctor: Just let go of the fantasy and you'll be fine.

Marie/Marty holds both her identities so dear she can't bear to lose either. Besides, the dating scene in both lives is starting to sizzle. In Provence, she's courted by American novelist William (Stellan Skarsgard), who's sensitive and romantic and loves kids. In New York, she meets wealthy accountant Aaron (William Fichtner), who's sensitive and romantic and loves kids. William is blonde and Aaron is dark. William is a loving older man and Aaron is a loving younger man. When Marie/Marty tells them about each other, they're properly incensed with jealousy and become very passionate.

There you have it, folks. All the complaints of the modern, industrialized woman rectified and healed in 105 minutes. Surely you are familiar with these complaints but here's a quick brush-up: 1) there are no sincere, single men in the world; 2) a woman wants children before she's too old; 3) yes, but motherhood can be boring and demanding; 4) yes, but the big-city career track can be stressful and demanding; 5) there are no sincere, single men in the world.

While the rest of womankind must reshuffle their lives and reorganize their priorities to solve even one out of five, all Marie/Marty does is close her eyes and she has it all. No wonder her two lives seem equally real and equally precious. Wouldn't they to you? Do I hear a chorus of "Hell yes!" out there?

Alain Berliner, noted for his previous "Ma Vie en Rose," is the helmsman of this work, which explains the languid, delicate ambience charging the picture throughout. Accordingly, Demi seems soft, innocent, even a little Frenchified. Her two boyfriends are dashing and chic; they would look great hunched into trench coats and walking in the rain. Berliner's eye for details like old furniture, chunky antique jewelry, toys and tableware also lets you feel as though you've escaped Tokyo and wandered into a Provence postcard, inscribed, of course, "Wish you were here."

As it turns out, Demi is there already. And as with most of her other movies, the major glitch of this picture is the same as its major charm -- that she's there, smack in the middle of the mantelpiece.

You'll love her in designer overalls padding around her cute cottage in France, but soon you'll start to resent it that she never has to yell at her kids or haggle with the local butcher.

She looks fabulous in an array of Dries van Notten outfits as the New York power agent, but then the fact that she never, ever does a lick of work makes you just a little bit fretful.

The entire story and all the characters are rigged to make Marie/Marty that much more attractive, victorious, loved. (Which is usually the case in a Demi Moore movie.) So much that you want to fast-forward the movie and find out in the end that both her lives were fantasies and she's actually a cashier in Iowa.

No such luck, of course. You'll leave the theater with the heavy sensation of having listened to "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" 15 times over. Personally, however, I've had a revelation. Next time I close my eyes, I appoint Alain Berliner to direct my dreams.

"Passion of Mind" is playing at Marunouchi Piccadilly 2 in Yurakucho and other theaters.


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