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MOVIE REVIEW : 'Twogether': Uncommonly Reflective Love Story

February 11, 1994|KEVIN THOMAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"Twogether" (Monica 4-Plex) is a terrific love story, one of those independently made intimate movies that comes out of nowhere to captivate you with its passion and integrity. Unlike most Hollywood romances, "Twogether's" tempestuous story is firmly rooted in the real world and involves people who have a capacity to think as well as feel. Writer-director Andrew Chiaramonte, who spent nine years getting this film off the ground, has cast two talented, spectacular-looking actors, Nick Cassavetes and Brenda Bakke, and then given them roles of uncommon substance and dimension.

Cassavetes is John Madler, an ambitious, volatile Venice-based painter who's not shy about trading on his looks and charm and, beyond that, the mystique of the artist as a wild man not beholden to the rules that govern us more prosaic types. At a gallery opening of his work, a benefit for a Greenpeace-like organization, he locks gazes with a volunteer, Bakke's Allison McKenzie. Since they both radiate availability, they waste no time in consummating their mutual attraction, rushing off to Vegas for more sex and partying only to wake up sober, realizing that somewhere along the way they got married.

They decide, as "mature, intelligent adults"--that's Allison's description--on a quick divorce. Yet when Allison arrives at John's Venice cottage with their final papers, they unexpectedly make love one more time--leaving Allison pregnant with a child they agree should be aborted. It's only when, much to their surprise, they find they can't go through with the abortion that these strangers start getting to know each other.

This is a great deal of pretext with which to get a story underway, but Chiaramonte has lots on his mind and has such a deft way with montages to further the action, such a sure instinct in what to leave out, that his film's pace never lags. What happens is that we share in John and Allison's discovery of each other, which proves to be an inspired, involving strategy on Chiaramonte's part.

The big revelation here is Allison, for beneath her seemingly poised and uninhibited facade lurks a tragedy-scarred poor little rich girl, the product of a rigidly conservative Bel-Air family that never valued her. John falls in love with Allison--she moves in with him during her pregnancy--but his pride and concern for freedom and independence drive him to conceal this truth, especially from himself.

The heart of the matter is that in John and Allison's thrashing out of their lives we can see ourselves. We're confronted with how we go about making our own choices and establishing our own priorities, how tough it can be to make any relationship work, how easy it is to avoid every kind of responsibility, how crippling are immaturity and self-absorption, how little we really know ourselves--in short, how so many of us need simply to grow up, whatever our age.

Clearly, Chiaramonte inspired Cassavetes and Bakke to bare their souls as well as their bodies, and if there's any justice, "Twogether" ought to give their careers a significant boost. There are lots of splendid people in support, none better than Damian London as the mercurial, tough-minded art gallery owner. "Twogether," which dares to wear its emotions on its sleeve, is one of those "little" movies that just might make it into the mainstream.

'Twogether'

Nick Cassavetes: John Madler

Brenda Bakke: Allison McKenzie

Damian London: Mark Saffron

Jeremy Piven: Arnie

A Borde Film release of a Dream Catcher Entertainment Group production. Writer-director Andrew Chiaramonte. Producers Emett Alston, Chiaramonte. Co-producer Todd Fisher. Cinematographer Eugene Shlugleit. Editors Fisher, Chiaramonte. Costumes Jacqueline Johnson. Music Nigel Holton. Production designer Phil Brandes. Art director Phil Zarling. Sound Kip Gynn. Running time: 2 hours, 2 minutes.

Times-rated Mature (considerable sex and nudity, language). Times guidelines: not for children but suitable for mature teens.

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