Picks and Pans Review: After the Storm
USA (Tues., March 20, 9 p.m. ET)
It doesn't take long to grasp what A.E. Hotchner, a friend and biographer of Ernest Hemingway's, was up against in fashioning a screenplay from the master's 1930s story After the Storm. Just read the original—all six pages of it. Faced with the spare tale of an unnamed man who finds a wrecked ship in deep water but fails to extract the valuables it contains, Hotchner reinvented the protagonist as Arno (Benjamin Bratt), a Bahamas beachcomber and American expatriate. Arno reluctantly enters a treasure-hunting alliance with a sleazy businessman named Jean-Pierre (Armand Assante). Joining the operation are Arno's girlfriend (Mili Avital) and his ex-lover (Simone-Élise Girard), who happens to be Jean-Pierre's wife. For a little Jaws flavor, Hotchner added a hungry shark to the mix, though Papa's story is explicitly sharkless.
Arno's backstory (including war service that parallels Hemingway's) is about as convincing as Assante's French accent. And we could do without Ortega (Nestor Serrano), a secondary villain who snarls, "Nobody cuts Ortega and gets away with it." Otherwise, the drama succeeds on its own terms—particularly once the scavengers start scheming against one another. And Hotchner's effective ending suggests that riches lost may mean wisdom gained.
Bottom Line: Not perfect but worth salvaging
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