1995 movie, distributed by New Line Cinema, portraying the tremendous literary affair between 19th-century French poet
s Paul Verlaine
and Arthur Rimbaud
or, as my friend Moe put it, how love can be the best thing in the world or can make people hurt each other for no good reason
, and mostly it's the case of the latter.
The only reason any of you would have heard of this movie is because in the part of the phenomenal literary enigma Rimbaud it featured a pre-superstar Leonardo DiCaprio, at the peak of his acting abilities fresh from What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, the Basketball Diaries and The Quick and the Dead before he started playing second fiddle to computer effects and his own colossal, sodden fame.
Though Leo steals the show, the film is full of good work from a number of others - director Agnieszka Holland of Europa, Europa, writer Christopher Hampton of Dangerous Liaisons fame, and especially David Thewlis playing Verlaine in a surprisingly sympathetic but thoroughly pathetic, drunken, lovelorn manner (those latter at least as perhaps befitting his subject's Decadent nature).
It is inevitable that such near-mythical material go over-the-top at some points, but consider the movie's following merits:
* simply beautiful shots of absinthe being served,
For the truly hardcore DiCaprio fanatics, know that this is probably the only movie you will be seeing for a long time featuring him in a (brief) fully frontal nude shot and (separately) engaging in the gasping and sweaty man-on-man anal penetration even the boldest fan only whispers about in their most covert fantasies.
* some quite clever directing (including a staging of Rimbaud's poem The Sleeper in the Valley),
* occasional moments of poetic discourse to match their literary legacy (Arthur confiding at one point that his greatest fear is for others to see him - in utter disdain - as he sees them),
* Leo popping a champagne-cork with his shoulder-blade cleavage
* and Leo's few moments capturing the tightrope-walk between genius and madness.
Well DREAM NO MORE! Your deepest desires have been translated into the filmic medium and are right now available at your local video rental outlet!