Picks and Pans Review: Love Affair

updated 10/31/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 10/31/1994 AT 01:00 AM EST

Warren Beatty, Annette Bening, Katharine Hepburn

If you're a sapaholic, here's your next fix. A remake of the 1939 four-hankies romance with Charles Boyer and Irene Dunne (which was also the basis for 1957's An Affair to Remember, starring Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr), Love Affair is old-fashioned right down to its chaste love scenes. No French kissing here, much less any real rutting between the married-in-real-life Beatty and Bening.

Does the magic still work? Well, yes, if all you're looking for is a big ol' unrealistic love story, swank costumes and settings and stars bathed in lighting so lusciously flattering that you will wonder why Revlon doesn't go into the bulb business. What director Glenn Gordon Caron and screenwriters Beatty and Robert Towne have failed to do is make sufficiently believable their hokey story about a couple who, though both otherwise engaged, have a shipboard romance. The verbal jousting is weak and charmless ("I thought these things were extinct," Bening says upon noticing Beatty's little black book).

Both Beatty and Bening look fine but seem curiously muted; you keep wishing they would let loose. There is chemistry between them onscreen, but not enough that you ever think the laboratory might blow up.

Kate Capshaw and Pierce Brosnan, playing the cheated-upon fianc├ęs, have little to do. As for Hepburn, 87, she stomps around acting stern as Beatty's aunt and gets to say the F word. There is, however, a lovely shot of her in which the camera slowly pulls away as she sits alone on a couch, fully aware that she may never see her nephew again. This single elegiac shot seems truer in feeling than any other in the movie; it echoes long after the rest of Love Affair has drifted away. (PG-13)

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