Middle East
Fortune struck for these Syrian migrants, but can they make it in California?
Los Angeles Times

Nina Takes a Lover


Friday May 5, 1995

     "Nina Takes a Lover"--but even though she's played by Laura San Giacomo it's hard to care one way or another. Writer-director Alan Jacobs, in his feature debut, takes us into a self-enclosed world only to inhabit it with uninteresting people; it's even hard to connect with Nina through her occupation, owner of a small San Francisco shoe store, not exactly the most captivating of endeavors.
     Jacobs means to grapple with the challenge facing couples several years into marriage, a time when romance has begun to fade, making the relationship vulnerable. Nina is being interviewed by a newspaper journalist (Michael O'Keefe) who is writing a piece on this very subject, and the film commences to unfold in flashbacks. Nina tells the reporter that, inspired by a fling one of her married friends (Cristi Conaway) is having with an espresso bartender (Fisher Stevens), she entered an affair with a Welsh photographer (Paul Rhys) while her husband was out of town for three weeks.
     None of these people has much personality or individuality or much on their minds except their emotions, and it's hard for San Giacomo and Rhys, for all their magnetism and skill, to keep us intrigued. What's more, Jacobs resorts to a gimmick for his payoff when he hasn't created enough substance to make it work as well as it should. "Nina Takes a Lover" is the sort of picture the French make so very intense and involving, charged with insights and ironies.
     It's a shame that "Nina Takes a Lover"--the kind of small, intimate film one wants to like--hasn't more going on to hold our attention more firmly, because it is nicely crafted, nicely acted and unfolds with a certain grace and charm.

Nina Takes a Lover, 1995. R, for strong sexuality and language\f7 .* A Triumph release. Writer-director Alan Jacobs. Producers Jane Hernandez, Jacobs. Executive producers Graeme Bretall, Shelby Notkin. Cinematographer Phil Parmet. Editor John Nutt. Costumes Marianna Astrom-De Fina. Music Todd Boekelheide. Production designer Don De Fina. Set decorator Victoria Lewis. Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes. Laura San Giacomo as Nina. Paul Rhys as Photographer. Michael O'Keefe as Journalist. Cristi Conaway as Friend. Fisher Stevens as Paulie.

Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times