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MOVIE REVIEWS : Bryan Brown as an Aussie 'Sweet Talker'

May 10, 1991|PETER RAINER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Australian actor Bryan Brown has a heroic presence that has almost never been properly exploited in the movies. Playing Dian Fossey's lover in "Gorillas in the Mist," he fit right into that film's teeming junglescapes. But epics like TV's "The Thorn Birds" and "Tai-Pan" didn't do anything for him. Neither did a movie like "Cocktail," where he got to juggle beer bottles in the course of being upstaged by Tom Cruise--through force of stardom, not force of talent.

"Sweet Talker" (citywide) has the tell-tale signs of a "personal" project for Brown. It's small and quirky and home-grown, and Brown originally came up with its story line. As a small-time con man who fleeces a fishing village and falls in love with a pretty divorcee (Karen Allen) with a young son (Justin Rosniak), Brown is trying for roguish good spirits. He is also scaling down his larger-than-life qualities in the service of a half-baked family entertainment.

"Sweet Talker" (rated PG) may have the advantage, at least for Americans, of showcasing an out-of-the-way locale. Everything else about it is thoroughly familiar, from the con games to the lovey-dovey theatrics. There are even references to Bill Forysth's "Local Hero," a movie with a vaguely similar story line and infinitely greater lyricism. The director Michael Jenkins is a straightforward storyteller but lyricism is not in his arsenal. Without it, "Sweet Talker" plods along: a "personal" project with no personality.

'Sweet Talker'

Bryan Brown Harry Reynolds

Karen Allen Julie McGuire

Justin Rosniak David

A New Visions Pictures presentation of a New Town Film, released through Seven Arts. Director Michael Jenkins. Producer Ben Gannon. Executive producers Taylor Hackford, Stuart Benjamin. Screenplay Tony Morphett. Cinematographer Russell Boyd. Editor Neil Thumpston. Costumes Terry Ryan. John Stoddart. Running time: 1 hour, 28 minutes.

MPAA-rated PG (occasional mild violence).

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