Lurid melodrama steeped in shameful Southern secrecy should really be a hell of a lot more fun than it is in Reflections in a Golden Eye -- especially when the film boasts such an impressive cast and insightful director. A lot of the blame must rest with the screenplay, which is saturated with overripe dialogue and characters that feel as if they were written out (with good reason) of a lesser Tennessee Williams work. Still, were director John Huston operating in better form, he might have been able to make something meaningful of the material, or at the very least have treated it with a light enough hand to render it a black comedy. Unfortunately, Huston's work is labored and pretentious, with the end of the film -- which features endless camera cuts between Marlon Brando, Elizabeth Taylor, and Robert Forster -- notorious among film students for its desperate heavy-handedness. With a cast this talented, there's some entertainment value, of course. Nobody is doing stellar work, but watching Brando making acting choices and going all out in them -- even when they are incredibly wrongheaded -- has a certain fascination, as does viewing Taylor wielding a whip. But it all gets wearying fairly quickly, and one sticks with the final hour only because of the occasional arresting moments that flicker across the screen, offering the hope that someone is about to add a much needed kick of bourbon to this watered-down mint julep.
by Craig Butler review