Picks and Pans Review: A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries

updated 09/28/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/28/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Barbara Hershey, Kris Kristofferson, Leelee Sobieski, Jesse Bradford

Whose movie is this anyway? That's the question frustrated viewers will be asking themselves as A Soldier's Daughter Never Cries, the latest from the filmmaking team of director James Ivory and producer Ismail Merchant, shifts its focus from character to character like a train constantly switching tracks.

First the movie follows a little French boy who is adopted by an American couple (Kristofferson and Hershey) living in Paris. Next Daughter zeros in on his adolescent American sister (Sobieski) and her intense friendship with an effeminate male schoolmate (a pointless episode). Then it's on to Kristofferson, a novelist who, with his health declining, uproots the family from Paris and moves everyone back to America, where his heart grows weaker, the daughter discovers sex, the now teenage French son (Bradford) sulks and Hershey drinks too much. With its kaleidoscope approach to its characters and story, Daughter ends up more a jumbled mood piece than a coherent whole.

It helps—but not enough—if one knows ahead of time that the movie is based on a semiautobiographical novel by Kaylie Jones, the daughter of writer James Jones, the soldier turned author of From Here to Eternity. (R)

Bottom Line: At least we have Paris here, but not much else

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