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Madonna and the Movies: High Hopes

A Look AT THE WEEK AHEAD

October 07, 2002|Robert W. Welkos

To promote their new film, "Swept Away," which Screen Gems opens Friday in limited release, Madonna and her husband, the British director Guy Ritchie, made a playful 30-minute special that recently aired on MTV.

"Why did you hire me to star in your film and not Julia Roberts?" the pop star asks Ritchie, to which the filmmaker replies, "Actually, I did ask her and she said no."

Jokes aside, does anyone doubt that Madonna would love to carve out a film career as successful as Oscar-winner Roberts if only she could finally cross over from music to film?

Over the years, Madonna has had mixed success dabbling in movies. The promise she showed in 1985's "Desperately Seeking Susan" evaporated the following year in the box office bomb "Shanghai Surprise" with then-husband Sean Penn. She was engaging in the 1992 ensemble hit, "A League of Their Own," but then came the stilted melodrama "Body of Evidence." Madonna won over many critics with her title role in the musical "Evita" but stumbled in "The Next Best Thing."

In "Swept Away," Madonna plays a rich, snotty, spoiled woman of 40 who meets her match in a strapping young fisherman after they wind up shipwrecked on a beautiful, deserted island. Ritchie's film is a contemporary adaptation of Lina Wertmuller's acclaimed 1974 sexual polemic, "Swept Away ... by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August."

The fisherman, Giuseppe, is played by a hunky actor named Adriano Giannini, who happens to be the son of Italian actor Giancarlo Giannini, who played Giuseppe in Wertmuller's film.

Whether Madonna can find success with Ritchie behind the camera remains to be seen. But Paul Dergarabedian, president of the box office tracking firm Exhibitor Relations Co., notes that Ritchie's previous films, the modern British gangster vehicles "Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels" and "Snatch" starring Brad Pitt, each attracted a following. They also garnered attention for their distinctively blunt juxtaposition of violence and humor.

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