Picks and Pans Review: White Palace
Rather than your standard movie romance—Richard Gere buying his way into Julia Roberts's heart, for instance—this is an often pleasing variation: Woman meets boy, woman loses boy, etc.
Be advised right now that the woman-gets-boy finale is on the give-us-a-break side, but up until then Sarandon, as a waitress in a St. Louis hamburger joint, and Spader, a young ad executive, stir up the old organic chemistry in fine fashion.
This is the opposites-attract school of love in the extreme. He's 27; she's 43. He's a hotshot; she's uneducated and unambitious. He's so obsessively fastidious he gives her a dust vacuum as a present; she's so messy he finds cupcakes under her bed.
Sarandon may in fact have played one too many slatterns, and it wouldn't hurt Spader to stay out of the slatternee business for a while. But they and director Luis (Gaby—A True Story) Mandoki pace the passion nicely, from the tentative beginnings to why-don't-we-do-it-in-the-road.
Renee (St. Elsewhere) Taylor hams up the thankless role of Spader's mother. Then again the writers, TV vet Ted Tally and Alvin (Julia) Sargent, adapting Glenn Savan's novel, give the actors little to work with.
While Sarandon gets away with "You make me feel beautiful." things really wind down at the end. After the predictable split over their intellectual, generational and vacuuming differences, Sarandon runs off to New York City. Spader quits his job to chase her, and they're down to the "People discover things about themselves and hope it's not too late" phase of the proceedings.
That's okay. Suz, Jim—you two kids just go off and have a good time. Let us worry about the dumb writing. (R)