Picks and Pans Review: Making Love

updated 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/08/1982 AT 01:00 AM EST

A lot of good intentions have gone into this tale of an eight-year marriage that breaks up when the doctor husband (Michael Ontkean) tells his TV executive wife (Kate Jackson), "I find I'm attracted to men." For once, a commercial American movie avoids the extremes of the gay world and places its subject squarely in the middle of an average home. That it does so with obvious sympathy for its characters is commendable. That its screenplay, by Barry (Gable and Lombard) Sandler, leaves no cliché unturned is calamitous. "If it feels good, do it," says Ontkean's first male lover, a writer played by Harry Hamlin. Counters Ontkean: "I'm not gay, just curious." Author Sandler confesses that he got himself through a similar sexual identity crisis in part by writing this script. But the movie—with its false reassurances and sentimentality—remains cloudy throughout. As directed by Arthur Hiller in the same tear-jerking style he imparted to Love Story, the characters ring trite, not true. The actors are not to blame. Ontkean and Hamlin play their controversial love scenes with discreet and believable passion. Kate Jackson, free of her TV Angel confines, uses her frightened-colt's eyes and quiet integrity to speak with an eloquence the script never hints at. Lucky in its timing and performances, Making Love may indeed tap the emotions of a large audience. But the tears are not fairly earned. What remains is a major theme still seeking the right interpreter. (R)

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