review for Meeting Venus on AllMovie

Meeting Venus (1991)
by Dan Friedman review

Before tackling the eccentric diva-esque roles of Norma Desmond in the stage version of Sunset Boulevard or Cruella De Vil in 101 Dalmatians, Glenn Close prepared by playing a true diva, opera singer Karin Anderson in Meeting Venus, a fine film that manages to combine both comedic and dramatic elements on a subject which, by public definition, is rather esoteric. Director István Szabó turns up the satire on the world of Grand Opera, and simultaneously pokes fun at what is supposed to be the "European Union." The conductor, played very charmingly by Niels Arestrup, must deal not only with out-of-control egos, but an international cast and the aforementioned diva. The supporting roles are a smorgasbord of European actors, and one can only expect that the difficulties the actors experience in mounting an opera somewhat mirrored Szabó's efforts to produce the film. The casual opera fan can certainly get some enjoyment from the film, but true aficionados will surely get more pleasure from the fine recorded performances of such talents as Kiri Te Kanawa, Rene Kollo, and Håkan Hagegård than they will from the onscreen actors. Close does a credible job but it's hard to believe she isn't just going through the motions. In keeping with it's subject matter, the film does feel a little slow and dragged out at times, but it's a very interesting examination of a world not often brought before the cameras.