review for Henry & June on AllMovie

Henry & June (1990)
by Brendon Hanley review

It's not every day that the Motion Picture Association of America creates a new rating, but that's what happened in 1990 with Henry & June, Philip Kaufman's biography of author Henry Miller. By giving the film the an NC-17 rating, the MPAA allowed it to be seen in many parts of mainstream America, where an X-rating would have meant banishment. Though the rating has since become almost as reviled as the X, the intended differentiation between pornography and art was clear. In the end, Henry & June is not particularly erotic, but it is boldly sensual, in the vein of Kaufman's previous film The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Most of the performances -- save for Fred Ward's portrayal of the rather pitiful Miller and Kevin Spacey's minor but memorable role -- are overshadowed by the film's visual splendor. Even the alluring Uma Thurman (as Miller's wife, June) and Maria de Medeiros (as Anaïs Nin) can't compete with production designer Guy-Claude François' stunning recreation of 1930s Paris. Philippe Rousselot was rightfully nominated for an Academy Award for his lavish cinematography.