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The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)


Love law-breaker

John McTiernan was a rarity in Hollywood, who portrayed spirited women, convinced chasing after women is happiness, & made action movies displaying manly struggle & suffering. He remade two Jewison movies. This is the one about beauty & love.

Thomas Crown loves beautiful things & does not love the laws. Therefore the woman comes to the center. Rene Russo, the most passionate woman in Hollywood in her brief bloom, is ripe in season. We see her desire & admiration, her fears & jealousy, her wit & a glimpse even of the man she loves. She is willing & able to seduce him, brimming with passion, ready with wit. Always a little uncertain, she is in love, which is to say, in trouble; she feels she does not deserve what she wants; she does not therefore wants it any less. All this is immortalized.

His woman rose from the gutter to the top, flattering the unpopular, refined opinion – pretending to be an elegant woman. Then she falls in love, suddenly discovering beauty, an entirely different ascent. – Law, reputation, job – all gone. We see her no longer veiled by accident & necessity. It is a dazzling sight; the stuff of love; it may be enough to drive some crazy. McTiernan’s intention centers on this eccentricity: being a lover, she is the beloved. In her see-through dress, black, dancing to South American rhythms, you already imagine her on some tropical island… She seems utterly immoral.

Pierce Brosnan is, as usual, the white knight. It is odd, because he plays playboys – elegant, sophisticated, refined. But he does not tremble with desire, his imagination does not cause him to anticipate his own actions. He is too calm to be a real criminal. He is the image of a man. & for my part, I think it’s funny that his face reminds me of John McTiernan’s.

Now, the heist & the love. Act 1 shows the man’s daring & crime – he knows beauty belongs with her lovers – anyway, visitors ignore his painting. He steals what he loves, because he is not satisfied to look, but wants to possess, the laws be damned. Act 2 shows the woman’s wit, following his motions & intention; & her own daring, realizing how similarly proud they are. She becomes like him & she falls in love with him. Act 3 brings them together: he is a criminal & she imagines the criminal in her mind. They must escape the city, however, because the only way you could say this is not rewarding injustice is to argue that they do not harm anyone. A likely story… The police bets he will keep the beautiful & lose the good. He reverses it.

Love glides down & flies up in this movie. See it.