Picks and Pans Review: Someone to Watch Over Me

updated 10/19/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/19/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Small-time-cop-falls-for-classy-dame movies aren't exactly new. And no one (though Burt Reynolds tried in 1981 with Sharkey's Machine) has told the tale with the potency of director Otto Preminger in 1944's Laura. Until now. Ridley Scott, best known for orchestrating the sci-fi razzmatazz of Alien and Blade Runner, has come up with a modern variation loaded with style, scares, sex and ravishing romance. Tom Berenger (the villainous Sergeant Barnes in Platoon) stars as a decent, dese-dem-dose detective, comfy in Queens, N.Y., with his wife and young son. Then he draws a "baby-sitting assignment," playing guard dog to a beautiful Manhattan socialite (Mimi Rogers) who has witnessed a mob homicide. Suddenly he starts noticing things. Like the lady's $3 million apartment, the elegant way she dresses, speaks and moves in her world. He feels awkward and fiercely attracted. Director Scott uses his camera to eroticize objects. We feel Berenger's intoxication with the luxury around him. When he accompanies her to a society party, Rogers buys him a more appropriate tie (his wife had picked out the loud number he was wearing). The gift has the charge of a first adulterous kiss. Ditto the movie. At home with his wife—newcomer Lorraine Bracco in a sharp, funny performance—Berenger starts criticizing the bluntness he once found to be her strength. And when Rogers leans on him for the protection she can't get from her wimpy, wealthy boyfriend (John Rubinstein), he's hooked. So is she. The two fall in love before they fall into bed. Here's a triangle with no sides to root against. The actors are smashing. As the flawed hero, Berenger exudes strength and feeling. Previously wasted in such films as Gung Ho, Rogers, the recent real-life bride of Tom Cruise, is a knockout—an alluring mix of satin-sheet sensuality and finishing-school finesse. Her final scene, watching the man she loves holding tight to his family, is unforgettably poignant. If that's not enough, there's the haunting Gershwin title theme sure to make heartsick saps of us all. (R)

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