Hemingway's Garden of Eden
Directed by John Irvin
A softcore glow radiates from Hemingway's Garden of Eden, a faux-rapturous Jazz Age expat-menage-a-trois drama from director John Irvin (Hamburger Hill). The screenplay was adapted by a former Paris Review editor, James Scott Linville, from a posthumously published work by Ernest Hemingway. A respectable literary pedigree—but, of course, what looks good on paper doesn't always look good on celluloid.
Garden of Eden follows a Hemingway-esque writer, David Bourne (Jack Huston), working on an autobiographical Africa-set novel while on a summer-long coast-of-France honeymoon with his wife, Catherine (Mena Suvari), who eventually sets out to self-destruct their marriage after commissioning for herself a series of ominously short haircuts. Catherine is deeply possessive (she sees David's press clippings as a rival for his attention) and drinks a lot of absinthe, but the only discernible reason for her roping an Italian heiress named Marita (Caterina Murino) into a dangerous game of infidelity chicken appears to be stock idle-rich instability—just another inheritance from her father, a roadster suicide.
Each of the leads appears visibly uncomfortable over-enunciating the huffy-entitled dialogue—especially Huston, who spends nearly the entire movie with a platinum dye job and an unretouched mustache, looking like some World's Fair Just for Men demonstration. And so an air of vaguely mechanical skeeze predominates, with nipple chiaroscuro trumping even the boilerplate psychology. One day middle-schoolers will be pleased to stumble upon this late at night on pay cable.
Opens December 10