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"Splendor" On DVD

by Jim Bray

Never heard of "Splendor?" It's no surprise. This is a really bad movie, though it features a good cast and good production values.

It's the "ultra hip" (according to the blurb) story of Veronica (Kathleen Robertson) and her pair of loves (Johnathon Schaech and Matt Kesslar) and their life together, apart, and together again.

Veronica meets both Abel and Zed on the same night and ends up falling in love with both of them - and living in bliss with them, too. It's a feminist sexual fantasy heaven, with two men at her beck and call and no responsibility at all.

Until she gets pregnant, at which time she's forced to think long and hard about life and her responsibilities to her baby. This leads her to leaving the guys and moving in (doesn't anyone just date any more?) with Ernest, a TV director who's the nicest and more responsible character in the film. He offers her everything for which a person could want: love, security, and a stable environment in which to raise her child, and when he asks her to marry him it appears Veronica's life is about to be complete.

But Abel and Zed refuse to take Veronica's defection laying down and, like Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate," crash her wedding to proclaim their undying love.

If you've made it through this much of the movie you'll find a happily convenient ending and can shut off the player comfortable in the knowledge that Veronica, Abel and Zed have set up a wonderfully warm "alternate lifestyle" family that's just one more lifestyle choice and should therefore be embraced.

Maybe it's just me, but I thought "Splendor" was one of the worst movies I've seen in a while. Robertson is sexy and intelligent and the rest of the cast turn in good performances, but who cares?

The movie is all about avoiding decisions, responsibility and consequences and the fact it has a happy ending doesn't change the fact that in a believable movie one can't merely wave ones' hand and have everything work out. Even in Disney cartoons the heroes still have to work for their reward, and are changed for the better by the time the story wraps up, but Veronica just screws her way to happiness and when life screws her back he finds someone else to screw, literally and figuratively, until her gratification happily and conveniently comes around again.

Oh well,at least the widescreen DVD looks and sounds good. Extras are confined to talent files, trailers, chapter stops, and liner blurbs that make the movie sound like an old fashioned "screwball comedy" in the grand Hollywood tradition.

My advice for those wishing to see a real screwball comedy is to watch "There's Something About Mary," or, better, still "What's Up Doc?" (which, unfortunately, isn't out on DVD yet) or the screwball comedies of old.

'Cause Splendor is anything but splendid.

Splendor, from Columbia Tristar Home Video
approx. 93 excruciating minutes, Widescreen (1.85:1), Dolby Digital 5.1
Starring Kathleen Robertson, Johnathon Schaech, Matt Keeslar, Kelly Macdonald, Eric Mabius
Produced by Damian Jones, Graham Broadbent, Gregg Araki,
Written and Directed by Gregg Araki


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Updated May 13, 2006