Monday, 25 August 2008

No.41 : White Palace

IMDb Link:

The cynic in me wanted to describe ‘White Palace’ as middle age chick wish fulfilment but being a soppy sentimentalist I have to admit I quite enjoyed it.

James Spader plays a young Jewish widower, Max, who is struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife in a car crash two years earlier. He is temped out for George out of Seinfeld’s bachelor party and agrees to pick up 50 burgers on the way - a classy do you understand. When he finds out he’s been diddled out of six burgers from the titular retaurant he goes back to complain and gets a grudging refund from brassy waitress Nora (Susan Sarandon).

Later , he stops in at a bar and again meets large breasted Nora who is most friendly. He is about to leave when he learns Nora is grieving too, for her son whom she says died of leukaemia. After giving her a lift Max beds down for the night on the sofa and has sexy dreams of his wife when in fact it’s Nora who is doing him the real life favour. Despite her hairy armpits and floor littered with sandwiches he begs for more and has a decidedly good night.

When he leaves next morning he says it’s for good but is soon drawn back by Nora’s filthy home and charms. As the relationship deepens Max has to juggle his growing affections for Nora and his tight circle of Jewish friends who are trying to pair him off with someone they think more suitable. When Nora objects to being sidelined Max takes her to a family dinner with cringe worthy results. With the rift deepening Nora takes flight and Max has to decide who, and what sort of life he wants.

Although not perfect ‘White Palace’ is a pretty good film. Spader and Sarandon play their polar opposites well, and although the chemistry isn’t quite incendiary between them, there is still the odd spark. His motivations for choosing Nora aren’t clear (apart from the spectacular blow jobs - as if that isn’t enough!) but the troubles of choosing the one you want over the one society thinks you should have is well addressed.

The scenes at the family dinner were well handled with Nora’s over defensive attitude being the cause of the troubles, not her preconceived ideas of peoples opinions of her. Both characters are the fish out of water in the other’s environment and the only thing they have in common is each other - but sometimes that’s all you need.

The support cast who were basically all playing stereotypical Jews were adequate but this is basically a two person show. Although she looks better scrubbed up Sarandon is still attractive in Nora’s dated wardrobe and if she could sort out that depilatory problem she’d do fine. Spader also impressed in an early role for him as the uptight and mercurial ad man and although I didn’t quite buy his eternal love for Nora he gave a good show of having the hots for her.

If you like a bit of romance where everyone isn’t beautiful and living the highlife ‘White Palace’ may just be what you ordered.

Best Bit : “I bet you don’t”

‘W’ Score: 17/23

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