Picks and Pans Review: Up Close and Personal
The inspirations for this romantic drama from Disney's Touchstone Pictures was the short, messy life of NBC newscaster Jessica Savitch, who died in a freak car accident 30 miles outside Philadelphia in 1983. But as John Gregory Dunne (who wrote the script with his wife, Joan Didion) recently explained to Esquire, "Disney wasn't going to make a movie about a lesbian who drank and took drugs." So instead we have this mountain of meringue.
Pfeiffer, an ambitious but inexperienced reporter, snags an entry-level job at a Miami station, where she finds the mentor she needs in a news director (Redford). A onetime network journalist who covered the White House and wasn't afraid to ask Nixon and Bush the tough questions—think Sam Donaldson with great hair—Redford guides Pfeiffer's soaring career while his own wanes. His problem is that he can't, he won't, stop battling mealymouthed corporate yes-men.
As this pillar of integrity, Redford gives a smooth performance—plush, by his standard. Pfeiffer gradually disappears into a cloud of noble suffering, much closer to Barbara Walters than to poor Savitch. She and Redford certainly make an attractive couple, but she showed more sexual chemistry with Jack Nicholson in Wolf. And he was a wolf! What does that tell you? (PG-13)