Picks and Pans Review: Amateur

updated 05/08/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/08/1995 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Isabelle Huppert, Martin Donovan, Elina Lowensohn, Damian Young

This movie is typical of the hermetically sealed, cooler-than-cool world of writer-director Hal Hartley, who hails from New York City's Long Island suburbs, but whose films have a distinctly European feel. The heroine of Amateur is an ex-nun (Huppert) who has quit the convent after 15 years to write pornographic novels. Although she labels herself a nymphomaniac, she is untested between the sheets.

"How can you be a nymphomaniac and never have sex?" someone asks Huppert.

"I'm choosy," she replies.

The movie, Hartley's fourth (his others are The Unbelievable Truth, Trust and Simple Men), is a romantic thriller in which the nun tries to help a dashing amnesia victim (Donovan) survive the wrath of a vengeful ex-porn star (Lowensohn), ruthless drug dealers and hired assassins. While handsomely filmed and amusing in a deadpan way, Amateur never draws you in and doesn't linger once the lights come up. (R)

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