Swept Away

It is always amusing when people remake movies that really should not be remade. The new version of Swept Away, based on the 1974 Swept Away...by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August is essentially a vanity project by director Guy Ritchie for his wife Madonna. Madonna (The Next Best Thing, Evita) is a dubious actor at best, wildly uneven and usually on the bad side. As a singer, she can constantly reinvent herself and do fresh things with music to keep her relevant in the pop world, but success as an actress requires a completely different set of skills which she does not possess. To say that she is awful here is an understatement. But to be fair, a lot of the blame rests on the script. It is inane and boring, and boasts two of the most unlikable protagonists in recent memory. It is hard to imagine anybody making these characters likable.

Madonna plays what is probably an exaggerated caricature of herself, Amber, the spoiled movie star. She is an absolute primadonna and bitch to be around. She complains nonstop and is harassing Guiseppe (Adrianno Giannini, State Zitti per Favore), one of the crewmembers of the ship she is on. Giannini's father played the same role in the original. Amber, her husband Anthony (Bruce Greenwood, Thirteen Days, Below) and four of their friends rented the boat for a relaxing vacation in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately, Amber whines at every possible moment, and prefers haranguing Guiseppe whenever she can. Guiseppe hates this, but does nothing because he is a crew member. So when the two find themselves shipwrecked on a deserted island, the tables turn. Guiseppe is the only person with the knowledge on how to survive. Amber's wealth means nothing, and she finds she must rely on him for food, shelter, and survival.

So what does Guiseppe do? He returns the favor by essentially making Amber his slave. He treats her like she treated him earlier, not letting her eat, forcing her to sleep on the floor and wash his clothes and all sorts of other demeaning things. And then, improbably, Ritchie (Snatch, Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) and original screenwriter Lina Wertmuller (The Worker and the Hairdresser, Francesca and Nunziata) have the two fall in love. Watching two people verbally and sometimes physically abuse each other is not too high on the lists of most moviegoers, and this is what most of Swept Away consists of. It is the insipid characters and their continual actions that doom this movie from the start.

Every romantic comedy requires to the two people to dislike each other for a while, just so when they finally end up together, it becomes sweeter. When they virulently hate each other, it's not as fun, and when they make the audience hate them, one wishes that they would just die alone on the island. The original Swept Away had some points to make about capitalism and communism, and Ritchie kept some of the dialogue in the remake, but it becomes hopelessly out of date and extremely out of place. Ritchie is not a director who can handle this kind of movie. He works best in an action movie environment, where he can use flashy camera tricks and special effects to bring out a sense of freneticism. Swept Away requires him to calm down and focus on things, something he has yet to learn how to master.

Haro Rates It: Really Bad.
1 hour, 30 minutes, Rated R for language and some sexuality/nudity.

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