Up Close & On a Pedestal

Robert Redford is the mentor and Michelle Pfeiffer the young television reporter in this sappy love and career drama.

Yes, sappy is the word. Dripping is a good one as well. Pfeiffer's Sally Atwater outright lies for her chance to get on the air, and Redford's sage Warren Justice dubs her "Tally" without giving her a chance to object. From the very start there's that grudging subliminal sexual tension between the two, and don't we know exactly where that's going to end up?

Aside from the typical refusal to share their feelings for each other, these two suffer from a strong commitment to their careers. They end up going to bed the first time just before Tally leaves town to join a major market newscast. The script is smart enough not to end there. This departure merely marks the beginning of a trail of personal and professional highs and lows for these two. By the end of the film, the stakes have risen high for both of them, and each in their own way has stuck to who they truly are.

This is a tough one to review because I'm having a hard time putting my finger on what is bothering me about the film. The tension between Redford and Pfeiffer is there. The obstacles presented by the script are reasonable, and the characters' reactions work and they find reasonable solutions to them. The general craft of the film is solid, though not spectacular. Maybe the problem is that it's all too easy for me. The edges are nice and rounded, and a story like this calls out for some nasty jagged bits to get caught on. It's hard to feel the pain of these characters because many of us would love to have these kinds of problems. It's a matter of connecting to the audience, and that's where the breakdown is for me. There's not much else for me to complain about. I hope others might get that connection because there's a decent story in here, but I feel like the approach is all wrong, too much like a five minute news story.

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