Picks and Pans Review: Milk and Honey

updated 07/17/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 07/17/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Josette Simon, Lyman Ward

A gentle, circumspect romance with a social conscience, this Canadian film derives much of its appeal from the stunning face and expressive acting of Simon. The English-born daughter of Caribbean immigrants, she is a mainstay of England's Royal Shakespeare Company and made a solid movie debut in Cry Freedom. This performance, however, ought to have producers—English, Canadian, American, anyone with a script and a camera-lining up to offer her whatever she wants, to play whomever she wants.

In this production, co-directed by Canadian newcomers Rebecca Yates and Glen Salzman and written by Salzman with Jamaican Trevor (The Harder They Come) Rhone, she is a woman who leaves her 8-year-old son in Jamaica to take a job as a live-in nanny in Toronto. She encounters insensitivity by the yard. A former nannying colleague abuses Simon's son while hiding him from Canadian immigration officials. Simon also meets Ward (Ferris Bueller's Day Off), a troubled married man who starts lusting after her when she takes a course he is teaching.

The plot cruises along amiably to its reggae-calypso sound track, though not much that happens bears scrutiny in the plausibility department. There's nice ensemble banter among Simon, Leonie Forbes, Djanet Sears and Jane Dingle as immigrant nannies who meet in the park to gossip while their charges play.

What lingers, though, is the memory of Simon's face—angry and confused when her new employers pay her less than she was expecting, bemused but wary when Ward starts coming on to her—a face always full of intelligence and promise.

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