The adaptation of Sue Miller's novel dawdles through some biographical background of doubtful import, and through a standard movie romance blossoming out of a Meet-Cute at the laundromat (she has removed his wet underwear from the dryer in his absence, but has left behind a pair of pink panties of her own), before it sets off through the dull procedural steps of a child-custody dispute. The latter, touched off by alleged sexual improprieties on the part of the divorcée's new lover, must bend over backwards to be as uninteresting as it is. The motives and moral character of said lover are never in any doubt -- he's a professional sculptor for reasons of glamour and sensitiveness, not bohemianism -- and no hint of irony ever encroaches on the movie's title, so we're left with nothing but (if we want it) a fine high huff over the state of American justice. And yet for all its stacking of the deck, the movie, directed by Leonard Nimoy in a style of self-conscious semi-improvisation, is too high-minded (or big-headed) to go unashamedly after old-fashioned, Barbara Stanwyck-type tearjerking. All in all, this seems a mistake. Its two-fingered grip on reality is not firm enough to pull the movie through. Diane Keaton, a self-conscious actress to begin with, becomes almost crazed with the affliction here, coming out with more breathy giggles and rolled eyes and full-bladdered footwork than in all her Woody Allen performances combined. And Liam Neeson, forbidden to let any shadow darken his role, lays on the Irish charm at a thickness thought to be dispensable only by leprechauns. (1988) — Duncan Shepherd
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