Picks and Pans Review: The Magician of Lublin
The film is based on Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer's novel about a turn-of-the-century Polish Jew who travels the countryside performing magic, seducing women and dreaming of being godlike. But Alan Arkin, as the magician, doesn't seem seductive, godlike or even Polish. He's so edgy, in fact, that it's no surprise that he ended up in conflict with Israeli director Menahem (Operation Thunderbolt) Golan. The director himself can't escape blame. The movie, shot in Germany, has a tableau look that in its best moments resembles impressionist painting but more often seems murky. Louise Fletcher, Valerie Perrine and newcomer Maia Danziger are workwomanlike as Arkin's lovers, while Shelley Winters and Lou Jacobi do character turns. What painfully lacks is passion. Or maybe this novel just defies filming. (R)
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