Tootsie

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by Sydney Pollack (1982)
I Really Love You, But I Can't Love You   (a slapdash review)

A great comedy, no doubt, but perhaps lacking a trifle more to transcend the genre even more impressively, and to be ranked among the very greatest movies *as such*, independently from the genre it belongs to. It is certainly entertaining and fun to watch from start to finish. What else could you expect from a movie starring two of the greatest American actors of all time: Dustin Hoffman and Charles Durning? (They were to repeat their collaboration 3 years later, to an even more impressive effect, in the 1985 definitive screen version of Arthur Miller's classic Death of a Salesman.) Plus, Bill Murray is another icon, of course. Sydney Pollack himself, the movie's director, is hilarious as the egomaniacal TV producer. True, there were a few moments where you could see the film-makers were trying to evoke a few cheap laughs from the audience; such as the baby throwing food at Dustin Hoffman in disguise; or Dustin struggling with his women's apparel, much reminiscent of Tony Curtis's similar afflictions in _Some Like It Hot_. However, apart from such upper-layer, obvious comedic moments, there were others, truly unforgettable ones: such as, when Michael delivers "the perfect line" to his beloved girl, only to receive the content of the girl's drink in her face; now *that*'s what illustrates the difference between theory and practice so picturesquely. What's more, the screenwriters *repeat* that amazing feat once again later in the movie's action; with Michael again, but another girl; and the other girl's hysterical shriek upon learning the truth -- the very thing she had demanded to hear from Michael a few moments ago -- is one of the movie's greatest moments. So is the line delivered by her following her shriek: "I can't take this shit from friends -- only from lovers." Yet *another* way to powerfully illustrate the difference between theory and practice -- as experienced by women. And, it's admirable that both of these unforgettable scenes and women's explosions center around their love interests; yes *love* is the movie's central theme; and there is at least one immortal moment of insuperable greatness in _Tootsie_. That is when, appropriately stuttering and rolling her big eyes, the beautiful Jessica Lange impeccably delivers the wondrous line, "I really love you, but I can't love you." That is a line of genius; in no other sentence has the paradox of love been better captured; or the paradox of humans using language and words that are woefully inadequate and imprecise -- such as the verb "to love" that involves so many meanings, some of them contradictory, that Jessica Lange can deliver her line and this line can seem perfectly logical *and* impossible at the very same time! The actors' performances are uniformly excellent. And there's a nice touch towards the end, when we see Bill Murray reading an ultimate tough guy's novel (a Dashiell Hammett book) in a movie that purports to examine the nature and essence of femininity.

Rating: Image:B-m.gif (= B- on a scale of A+ to F-)
--Faterson 20:15, 22 April 2008 (CEST)
[watched on 20080418; original writing time on 20080422 between 19:20:33 & 19:35:25]
[abridged version of this review also posted in IMDb's comments section for Tootsie]

Additional Resources
  • Tootsie webpage in Wikipedia
  • Tootsie entry in The Internet Movie Database
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