Tuesday, October 2, 2007
I Never Bring Anyone Here
“Can you believe it’s nearly October?” asks a character early in the 1999 remake of THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR. The film begins during an unseasonably warm autumn in New York, but the feeling of fall begins to make itself known later on, as the characters played by Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo grow closer and more conflicted.
The original AFFAIR in 1968 found most of its emotional weight in its Michel Legrand score, particularly the classic “Windmills of Your Mind”. The remake, while not finding its own sort of instant classic, does manage to achieve something similar with its music. There’s a light, twinkly Bill Conti score which works as ideal cocktail music but more important is the recurring use of the Nina Simone classic “Sinnerman”. Part of it turns up for the first time when Brosnan pulls off his first heist in the museum early in the film, but when it returns at a greater length back in the museum for the climax the lengthy song suddenly attains a great amount of weight, as if it’s underlining Thomas Crown’s last stand, something he’s doing purely for the love of Rene Russo’s character.
Catherine Banning as played by Rene Russo is the other great surprise of the movie. Entering the narrative relatively late, much like Faye Dunaway’s character in the original, she eventually takes over the film both in performance and in how the film really becomes about her. I don’t know if the script was always laid out this way, but it plays as surprisingly generous of Pierce Brosnan to allow her to emotionally take over the second half of the film. It’s almost as if we don’t need to continually show him in love with her—we already know that and allowing her to dominate gives us the chance to fall in love with her as well.
It’s not exactly Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, but it does feel more like a world I’m familiar with. One sequence late in the film has Brosnan and Russo, fully in love, wandering around lower Manhattan together. One shot has the camera whipping down from an angle on the World Trade Center to find them on the sidewalk. The release of the remake in 1999 was already a few years after I left New York, but it was still closer to my departure than ’99 is to now so the Manhattan seen here still holds some strong reminders for me. The unfortunate thing about autumn in New York for me in my memory is that I never realized how much I loved it until I was already living in L.A.
This wasn’t one of my favorite days at work and I have a feeling that tomorrow will be similar. If I wrote about my job, this would be the sort of day where I’d want to unload about a lot of things. But I don’t want to do that. Instead, I’m watching Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo spar with each other and it’s making me think of days and nights in New York in the autumn. That was a long time ago.