Picks and Pans Review: Beyond the Limit

updated 10/17/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/17/1983 AT 01:00 AM EDT

It may not be anything to build a career on, but Richard Gere has found a role he's perfectly suited to in this grim, moody drama based on the Graham Greene novel The Honorary Consul. Gere's screen image is of superficiality and lack of connection; adroit at displaying lust, he has almost no ability to convey passion. In this film he plays a half-Paraguayan, half-English doctor practicing in a small Argentinian town. Despite his lack of ideals or principles, he becomes swept up in a plot by Paraguayan rebels to kidnap an American diplomat. Gere is convincingly cynical, exploitive, cold; he's reminiscent of Humphrey Bogart in the first part of Casablanca. Gere, however, doesn't turn out to have a heart of gold—or any kind of heart. He has an emotionless affair with the ex-hooker wife of his friend, the alcoholic British consul, played with subtle modulation by Michael Caine. (The wife is Mexican actress Elpidia Carrillo, who is called on only to be sensual.) By the time Caine becomes involved in the kidnap plot, it's clear that Gere's inability to commit himself is chronic. He's eventually given up as a hopeless case even by his friend, the local Argentinian police colonel, played by Bob (The Long Good Friday) Hoskins. The film is heavy going at times. The Argentine and Paraguayan governments are both brutally repressive, and the rebels are ruthless; nobody believes in anything but survival. But Greene's story, adapted by Christopher Hampton and directed by John (The Long Good Friday) Mackenzie, keeps most of the attention on the three principals. Even if you don't like them, you want to find out what's going to happen to them next. (R)

From Our Partners