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    When Will I Be Loved?


    Neve Campbell has grown up into a tremendous actress — now if she could just get better work than James Toback's weak sexual wish-fulfillment on film, "When Will I Be Loved?"


    If all you ask of a movie is a nice big eyeful of Neve Campbell doing an astoundingly good acting job and just being generally all-around beautiful, fine, this is your movie. If you want it to be good in any other way, keep looking.

    Written and directed by: James Toback.
    Cast: Neve Campbell, Fred Weller, Dominic Chianese, Karen Allen, Barry Primus, Michael Mailer, Jason Pendergraft, Joelle Carter, Megan Pepin, Damon Dash, Alex Feldman, Meredith Ostrom, Thomas Patti, Cara Hamill, Oliver 'Power' Grant, James Parris, Mike Tyson, Robert Covelman, Ashley Shelton, Luca Mosca, Lori Singer.
    Cinematography: Larry McConkey.
    Edited by: Suzy Elmiger.

    Related links: Official site
    In press notes, writer-director James Toback ("The Pick-Up Artist") boasts that only two scenes of the film were written in advance and the rest was heavily improvised, which only means he should have worked harder on the script.

    Those two conversations have a certain sense of repartee; the rest of the film is an assemblage of inane encounters and irrelevant cameos by famous friends of the filmmaker. What's Mike Tyson doing in this movie? Nothing special. What's Lori Singer doing here? Only standing around in Central Park participating in conversations like this:

    Lori: "So what do you do?"

    Neve: "Oh, I'm just ... searching ... walking around and ... searching ... figuring it out."

    If Toback had spent some time figuring it out, the first half of the movie wouldn't have been a bad imitation of "Slackers," with strangers running into one another randomly on the street, momentarily chitchatting, and then going vapidly on their way.

    When Will I Be Loved?  
    Eventually, a flimsy but recognizable story takes shape that has to do with the immensely irritating Ford (or is it actor Fred Weller who's immensely irritating?) arranging a $100,000 tryst for his girlfriend Vera (Campbell) with billionaire Italian media mogul Count Tommaso (Dominic "Junior Soprano" Chianese). Ford fills her head with a line of unlikely nonsense about how he wants to lead her (not like she needs much leading) on a path of discovery of the ways of Sappho and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Whatever.

    We know what he really wants, and it's pretty much the same thing that director James Toback wants. And that is, in addition to money, the chance to play out his sexual fantasies involving Neve Campbell. Toback himself appears as a Columbia professor who wants to hire Vera as an assistant with whom he could maybe also have sex if that's, like, part of her personal journey or something. Their one conversation is royally embarrassing — and it doesn't take much effort to imagine that their casting meeting could have gone down pretty much the same as the "fictional" version we see here. Unfortunately for him, he had to transfer the rest of his weak amorous fantasy-fulfillment scenes to a younger, more charismatic actor — the fast-talking stud Toback wishes he were. Can't we at least pretend that we didn't get into the film business so we could meet beautiful actresses and desperate starlets? Guess not.

    Toback at least got lucky to this extent — he got some very un-self-conscious nude scenes from his star actress, and gave her a couple of snappy, sexually charged conversations that work well. We can give Campbell a lot of the credit here. I like to think of 2003 — between Campbell's outstanding turn in "The Company" and Charlize Theron's award-winning performance in "Monster" — as the year of the onetime sexpots proving they can really act, and if this is exhibit B in Neve Campbell's Mature Actress Reel, that's great. She proves herself sharp-witted, hypernatural, unafraid, and totally appealing. Now, will somebody besides Robert Altman just make sure she has herself a career?

    SEPTEMBER 15, 2004

    Reader comments on When Will I Be Loved?:

  • Review of "When Will I Be Loved"   from John Lestat, Mar 6, 2005
  • Destined to become a classic!   from Chad E Willoughby, Apr 30, 2006
  • hi neve   from ALISSA, May 11, 2006

  • Post a comment on "When Will I Be Loved?"