There’s a reason audiences don’t generally embrace movies about movies, and An Almost Perfect Affair provides an almost perfect example: The lead character is a spoiled brat oblivious to the fact that he wastes once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, making him so deeply unsympathetic that the film itself is unpalatable. The oh-so-precious plot concerns Hal (Keith Carradine), an earnest young director who self-financed a movie about the execution of murderer Gary Gilmore. So before the story even gets underway, Hal seems like an elitist twit, throwing away money that would seem like a fortune to normal people on a downer subject unlikely to lure mass audiences. In the hope of selling his self-proclaimed masterpiece to a distributor, Hal hops on a plane to the Cannes Film Festival, only to have his movie seized at customs. He then meets a married Italian woman (Monica Vitti), who not only helps with his customs problems but hops into bed with him. So on top of being a foolhardy snob, Hal’s also an irresponsible cad, and yet we’re supposed to feel sympathy while he mopes around France in between trysts with Vitti. This gets at the other reason why audiences generally don’t embrace movies about movies; more often than not, movies about movies aren’t really about movies, but rather about the whiny angst of petulant filmmakers. Yawn. In this particular instance, Carradine’s down-home charm is not enough to surmount the narcissistic aspect of his character, and Vitti is yet another European starlet hampered by a thick accent and a vapidly decorative role. Venerable comedy helmer Michael Ritchie directed this flop, which commenced his fall from grace after a hot streak that included The Candidate (1972) and The Bad News Bears (1976).
An Almost Perfect Affair: LAME