0.5 Stars
Year Released: 2002
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 90 minutes
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It certainly didn’t take long for Madonna to ruin husband Guy Ritchie’s career. They first teamed on the smugly jokey “Star,” easily the worst of last year’s otherwise classy series of shorts at BMWFilms.com; then there was the video for her “What It Feels Like for a Girl,” which, while not particularly bad, did Ritchie no favors when it was rejected by MTV for its inexplicable level of violence. None of those relatively minor missteps, however, can quite prepare one for the baffling boondoggle that is “Swept Away.”
At first, this remake of Lina Wertmüller’s 1975 Italian film is your typical “Madonna-bad.” With her meager acting skills, overwrought mugging, shrill line delivery and quasi-Brit accent, Madonna makes Amber, a spoiled rich bitch on a Mediterranean cruise with her husband (Bruce Greenwood) and some equally shallow and self-absorbed friends, far more monstrous and comical than was obviously intended. Ritchie does little to help, giving her some real whoppers of lines and, it appears, going out of his way to light her in the most unflattering way possible.
Yet, we’re supposed to care about this hateful, hideous woman when the action shifts from the boat to a deserted island, where Amber and the main target of her vacuous venom, the yacht’s first mate Giuseppe (Adriano Giannini, who more resembles an Italian version of Aidan Quinn than his he does father, Giancarlo–who played the role in the original), end up stranded. With the already-small cast whittled down to this bickering twosome, the film becomes that much more of a trial though with an occasional guffaw-worthy line–none better than Amber’s priceless put-down, “I’d rather fuck a pig than kiss you, monkey boy!” (Now, imagine Madonna delivering that line, and you’ll understand just how rolling-on-the-floor-hilarious it is.) But very soon after that comic peak, the film goes from being merely “Madonna-bad” to something far beyond.
That “Madonna-bad” is already quite ghastly in and of itself should give you an idea of the sheer fabric-of-the-universe-threatening, what-did-I-do-to-deserve-this, Lord-have-you-no-mercy, someone-find-me-a-loaded-gun-now, mouth-agape awfulness that fills out the rest of “Swept Away”‘s running time. Marvel! …as Giuseppe uses his newfound power over Amber to slap and kick her into calling him “master” and cater to his every whim! Delight! …in how Ritchie somehow shoehorns in an elaborate song-and-dance fantasy number for his wife! Smile! …at the laughably “Blue Lagoon”-ish romantic bliss Giuseppe and Amber find right after he nearly rapes her! Laugh! …with Amber as she takes a swig of alcohol and starts barking like a dog! Scream! …when you realize that Ritchie is actually trying to make an earnest romantic tearjerker out of this material! No! …that last sentence is not a joke! Only the whole wretched wreck of a movie is.

Posted on November 13, 2002 in Reviews by

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