Picks and Pans Review: Eros

updated 04/18/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/18/2005 01:00AM

ANTHOLOGY

Robert Downey Jr., Alan Arkin, Gong Li, Chang Chen

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Director Michelangelo Antonioni, now 92 and too frail to shoulder a full production, is at the heart of these three short films connected by the theme of love and sex. Hong Kong's Wong Kar Wai and America's Steven Soderbergh joined the project because of their affinity for the Italian master (L'Avventura)—although only Kar Wai (In the Mood for Love) actually shows a similar sensibility, one that makes a viewer as aware of the lovers' surroundings as the lovemaking itself: Walls, halls, entire landscapes are one vast bedroom. Antonioni's film, The Dangerous Thread of Things, is too tenuous to be described as anything more than a poetic fragment about a ménage in Tuscany. Soderbergh's Equilibrium is a dismissable comedy about an ad man (Downey) explicating an erotic dream while, behind his back, his psychiatrist (Arkin) plays Peeping Tom with binoculars. But Kar Wai's opener, The Hand, in which a fading courtesan (Li) never loses the dutiful love of her tailor (Chen), is a small classic of sexual ardor. It's like being seduced into a swoon. (R)

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