Picks and Pans Review: The Sicilian

updated 11/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/16/1987 AT 01:00 AM EST

Monumental achievement! Not to be believed! The work of a unique talent! Yes, just when everyone was thinking that nobody, not even director Michael Cimino himself, could make a worse movie than Heaven's Gate or Year of the Dragon, he turns out this pathetic bore. Written by Steve (Save the Tiger) Shagan from Mario Puzo's novel, it is about a post-WWII Sicilian version of Robin Hood who leads a gang of bandits and rebels battling the government, the church and the Mafia. The character is based on a real life figure, Salvatore Giuliano, and the whole project cries out for epic treatment. This movie, on the other hand, cries out, "Small potatoes!" Christopher (Greystoke) Lambert, who plays Giuliano, has one basic acting move, the scowl. True, there is plenty to scowl about in this case, but constant scowling doesn't make for a lot of charisma. The dialogue trudges from hopeless banality—"Be careful;" "Don't worry, I have a plan"—to hopeless pretension: "What next?" "There is nothing next." When at long last Giuliano has his confrontation with the island's Mafia don, played with a strange melancholy by English stage actor Joss Ackland, he kisses Ackland's hand and says, "I kiss your hand." It would have been a great moment if, at that point, Ackland had reached out and said, "I tickle your tummy." Terence Stamp, as a foppish land baron, preserves his dignity, and the Sicilian locations are alluring, although Giuliano never stops to say anything unless there is a breathtaking vista right behind him. Though there is plenty of cynicism in the ending, the question of who is using whom has long since become irrelevant—except perhaps as it relates to how Cimino is using, or misusing, his audience. (R)

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