Liebestraum (1991) from Tuna

Liebestraum (1991) by Mike Figgis is long on style and atmosphere, and short on content. Nick Kaminsky (played by Kevin Anderson), teacher and writer on architecture, comes to Elderstown to see his dying mother in the hospital. He runs into old school chum Paul Kessler (Bill Pullman) who is tearing down the most interesting building in town, an old department store using cast iron construction. Anderson saves Pullman's life when a sign falls from the rooftop. A grateful Pullman invites him to his wife Jane's (Pamela Gidley) birthday party that night, and it is obvious immediately that Gidley and Anderson are attracted to each other.
The department store was closed after a multiple homicide. Both Gidley (who is a photographer) and Anderson are interested in the building. Working together, they draw ever closer to an affair, which parallels the affair a generation ago that resulted in the multiple murders. The film looks great, with interesting lighting and camera angles, but there is just not enough story, or enough surprises to make a suspense film. In an attempt to create the suspense, Figgis tried to obscure the story line as much as possible. Still, the audience figures it out long before the characters. Figgis also committed a major Tuna no-no by having everyone have sex with their clothes on. This is especially irritating in a film that is supposed to be sexy, and revolves around two acts of illicit sex.


see the main commentary

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic, 1.85:1

  • no meaningful features

Gidley does show her butt in close-up in the shower, and most of a nipple using the classic falling tits (arms crossed under the breasts) pose to prevent better exposure. I have never actually observed a woman's breasts fall off, but it must happen, as I often see them carefully holding them up this way. While her face is not in frame with either shot, it is her. With the butt shot, it is a slow pan from shoulders to mid-thigh, and the intricate freckles on her back agree completely with other shots of her back in the film. In the breast shot, it is a slow pan up that ends showing her face. 

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: two stars. Ebert 2/4, Maltin 2.5/4

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 25% positive overall, only seven articles on file

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.9
  • With their dollars ... a failure. It grossed $133,000
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics - or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, this film is a C-

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