ReelTalk Movie Reviews  

New Reviews
Jurassic World Domini...
Jazz Fest: A New Orle...
Chip 'n Dale: Rescue ...
more movies...
New Features
Poet Laureate of the Movies
Happy Birthday, Mel Brooks
Score Season #71
more features...
ReelTalk Home Page
Contact Us
Advertise on ReelTalk

Listen to Movie Addict Headquarters on internet talk radio Add to iTunes

Buy a copy of Confessions of a Movie Addict

Main Page Movies Features Log In/Manage

Rate This Movie
 Above AverageAbove AverageAbove AverageAbove Average
 Below AverageBelow Average
Rated 2.99 stars
by 896 people

ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Where's Gilligan When You Need Him?
by Adam Hakari

It's a tough task, remaking a movie. Filmmakers face the danger of ruining a bona fide classic or repeating the same mistakes of an earlier second-rate flick. Because Lina Wertmüller's controversial 1974 film Swept Away is generally regarded as a classic, a few detractors wondered why writer/director Guy Ritchie re-tooled it to star his wife, good singer/bad actress Madonna. I had the same reservations myself, until I saw the original. After that, all I worried about was whether or not Ritchie's remake would be as annoying and overbearing as its predecessor.

As lambasted and reviled as the new Swept Away is, there are many ways in which it improves upon the original. And, unfortunately, many ways it doesn't. Swept Away is quite ridiculous at certain points, but unlike a few films from Madonna's past, this one doesn't set a new standard for epic badness.

Madonna plays Amber Leighton, an extremely snotty socialite, who, along with her husband (Bruce Greenwood, looking like he's wondering how he ended up in this movie) and some friends, takes part in a sailing trip from Greece to Italy. Once she boards, however, Amber declares a one-woman assault of insults directed toward deckhand Giuseppe (Adriano Giannini). With Amber complaining about the taste of the fish and with Giuseppe dying to wring her neck, these would be the last two people who would want to spend time with one another. But they do end up together, stranded on a deserted island after the dinghy breaks down on the way to look at the rocks.

Amber soon learns that in order to survive, she must depend on Giuseppe and his living-off-the-land skills. However, the price of food and water doesn't come cheap, and as a result, Amber becomes Giuseppe's slave. He smacks her around and treats her with the same verbal abuse she used to dish out to others.  Strangely enough, this relationship opens up new doors between Amber and Giuseppe, allowing them to absorb new experiences through which an unlikely romance develops.

If the original Swept Away is looked upon as a feast of ideas, with brave, careful steps taken to present them, this remake might be called the "McDonald's meal" version. As annoying and scattershot as I thought Wertmüller's film was, I must admit she took a big chance by exploring the realms of social class and politics as well as by showing how getting a taste of new worlds eventually forms the passion that binds the two leads together. Ritchie's version strips those themes away from the story, removing the male lead's political beliefs and his marriage to a woman back home, and keeps the provocative material -- but without as much backbone to support it. At times, Ritchie seems to be crafting Swept Away into a screwball comedy of sorts (oh, and who doesn't like a good raping and beating to chuckle at once in a while), a direction Wertmüller hinted at but never took; Ritchie inadvertently proves why she didn't.

But for everything Ritchie gets wrong, he actually makes a few improvements on what went completely awry the first time around. The most obvious difference? Ritchie is not as heavyhanded in his storytelling. He sets the events up at a more acceptable pace, thereby creating a less annoying and irritating film experience for viewers. Also, while Madonna doesn't give an award-caliber performance, she nails her part in some scenes and tries to make her character more than just a bitter caricature. And Adriano Giannini, recreating the same role his dad played in the original Swept Away, does a credible job playing a believable figure for Amber to fall in love with -- even after the beatings and insults. Finally, at times, I could sense Ritchie trying to accomplish the same goals as Wertmüller in terms of making a film that takes chances and presents taboo topics in as serious a manner as possible.

Happily, both filmmakers share an eye for cinematography. In Ritchie's movie, the camera captures beautiful shots of the Mediterranean Sea and the film's gorgeous locales, shots that almost make up for this director not showing off his great individuality and cutthroat style so evident  in Snatch and Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

MY RATING: ** (out of ****)

(Released by Screen Gems and rated "R" for language and some sexuality/nudity.)

Review also posted at

© 2024 - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Website designed by Dot Pitch Studios, LLC