Picks and Pans Review: The Browning Version

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

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

Albert Finney, Greta Scacchi, Matthew Modine

It's always a pleasure to watch Finney, now a ruined hulk of his once sexy, athletic self, at work. He is an actor of intelligence and vigor, and it is fascinating to see him notch up the smarts while lowering the energy to portray a disillusioned burnout of a schoolteacher.

That said, there's little else—other than a lovely, rosebush-bedecked English cottage that I'd happily move into tomorrow—to hold one's attention during this moribund film adaptation of Terence Rattigan's classic one-act play (Michael Redgrave starred in the 1951 movie version) about a teacher who has failed to connect with either his pupils or his wife (Scacchi) for the past couple of decades.

As directed by Mike Figgis, it's all too refined and the pauses too pain fully significant. Neither Scacchi nor Modine, playing an American teacher with whom she is sleeping, bring much to the party, though Michael Gambon (PBS's Maigret) is wonderfully greasy as the headmaster eager to hasten Finney's departure from the school. (R)

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