Picks and Pans Review: Falling in Love

updated 12/03/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 12/03/1984 AT 01:00 AM EST

It's not often that a movie suffers because the actors are too good. This is one of those rare occasions. The film co-stars Robert De Niro as a nice suburban New York guy, a construction engineer who is devoted to his family and is about as exciting as a lawn mower. Opposite him is Meryl Streep as a nice suburban New York woman, a commercial artist who is as sexy as a jar of apple sauce. As they're written—by playwright Michael (The Shadow Box) Cristofer—the characters are pleasant, bland, unimaginative people. Banality defined. De Niro and Streep act the heck out of their parts; anyone who has ever doubted that either is a great actor need only see this film. They indeed seem like real people, it is not, however, terrifically entertaining to watch a man and woman being mundane for two hours as they commute on the train a lot and drift into an affair. The supporting cast is eccentric. De Niro's real-life pal Harvey (Fingers) Keitel lends his usual weaselly intensity to his role as the engineer's philandering friend. Jane (Uncommon Valor) Kaczmarek manages to make an impact as De Niro's wife, despite being saddled with some ludicrous wounded-spouse lines. But Dianne (Footloose) Wiest, as Streep's loose-living buddy, seems uninterested and looks as if she is always smelling something putrid. And David (Star 80) Clennon, as Streep's doctor husband, acts perpetually terrified of nothing in particular. The film was directed by Ulu (True Confessions) Grosbard, who should be given credit for trying to make a movie about average people living average lives. He accomplishes one thing: He demonstrates why most of us don't find large audiences gathering to watch us make toast or read the paper. (PG-13)

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