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Hemingway’s Garden of Eden

Submitted by admin on December 11, 2010 – 10:47 pmNo Comment
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Hemingway’s Garden of Eden follows a fairly routine ménage-a-trois among a couple of expatriate Americans and their Italian lover. Set in France, in the jazz age of the 1920s Garden of Eden constantly wants to be more than a tedious meller with occasional sex and some nudity, but only succeeds in flash like glimpses of the greater story.

They’re young, they’re bored and they are in love. That’s an apt description of David and Catherine Bourne (Jack Huston and Mena Suvari). Huston was in the little seen art world comedy Boogie Woogie while Suvari has been floundering in meaningless roles since her debut in American Beauty. Nonetheless Suvari makes this film worthy if anything does; her at times petulant behavior and almost Dionysian sexual appetite give scene after scene any bite to brag about. There’s a cinematic equivalent of the type of stories penned by Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald that can objectively view post WWI-lifestyles such as on display in Garden of Eden only this movie, despite ample costumes and settings, doesn’t reach that level. There are amusing asides, like when Huston and Suvari dye their hair whip cream white and wear matching outfits.

Oddly the film comes out in a limited exclusive engagement (at the AMC Studio 30) at the time of year when lots of Oscar bait makes the rounds, including a couple from the same distributor Roadside Attractions (Biutiful and I Love You Phillip Morris); yet Hemingway’s Garden of Eden has been sitting on the shelf for a year or so. Try though veteran director John Irvin does to find a continuous tone to sustain the feature it all ends up being so much claptrap.

- Michael Bergeron

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