Picks and Pans Review: Tender Is the Night
For its first miniseries, Showtime had the good sense to make the BBC its partner in production. But they had the bad sense to pick this novel to dramatize, for it's about a guy who never does anything. Ennui isn't exactly entertaining, especially when it lasts six hours. Much of the book's appeal is its poetry of description, for example Fitzgerald's words about a young woman "who had magic in her pink palms and her cheeks lit to a lovely flame, like the thrilling flush of children after their cold baths in the evening." No real person could live up to that. Peter (Masada) Strauss plays the whiny hero, a shrink who's described as brilliant but never shows it, who marries his rich patient, Mary (Cross Creek) Steenburgen. They loll around Europe with their friends, John Heard and Sean Young among them. And their inactivity is punctuated only by Steenburgen's occasional trips to the bathroom, where she goes crackers. The production is lovely and respectable. But until its last hour, this mini is plain tedious.