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Los Angeles Times

Love Walked In


Friday February 20, 1998

     In the final credits of "Love Walked In," a competent B-picture, special thanks are offered to Columbia Home Video. Well, the home screen is precisely where this picture belongs. It's intelligent and stylish but not nearly original enough to warrant a trip to your local multiplex.
     It is best of all a solid showcase for Denis Leary, a comic actor with a real edge who's due for a big breakout role. Leary plays Jack Hanaway, a piano player and would-be writer with a drinking problem. Jack's booked at a small club in an Eastern seaside resort teamed with a torch singer, Vicki Rivas (Aitana Sanchez-Gijon), a smoldering beauty and his longtime lover.
     Jack's patter is so sour that he and Vicki are fired--only to be promptly reinstated when a Mr. Moore (Terence Stamp) speaks up and states that he likes a "sardonic piano player." Fred Moore's opinion carries weight because he's an important local businessman married to a fabulously wealthy wife (Marj Dusay), who has a palatial estate nearby.
     She also suspects he's being unfaithful and has hired a private eye named Eddie (Michael Badalucco) to investigate. It turns out that Eddie is an old pal of Jack's from Brooklyn. Although Jack and Vicki are happy and living rent-free in a charming beach cottage, they have no real security, and Jack so far isn't getting anywhere in his writing career. (We get glimpses of what's happening in his imagination as he tries to spin a prophetic tale of an especially savage and bitter lifelong rivalry between cousins, well-played by Neal Huff and Danny Nucci, with Moira Kelly as the girl they both want.)
     A rich woman with whom Jack once had an affair tested him by throwing a diamond ring down a toilet--and he unhesitatingly flushed it. But that was then; now Jack finds himself open to Eddie's proposal that Vicki come on to Fred Moore just enough to allow Eddie to snap some compromising photos to enable Mrs. Moore to nail her husband.
     These three, however, have no idea of what they're getting into in dealing with Moore--and Stamp is such a compelling actor that he can show you more aspects of formidability and insight than you might ever have dreamed.
     Adapted from a novel by Jose Pablo Feinmann by director Juan J. Campanella and writers Lynn Geller and Larry Golin, "Love Walked In" has some snappy repartes and an abundance of film noir mood and atmosphere but lacks that extra twist to make it distinctive and original. Like a lot of other neo-noirs, "Love Walked In," which could just as easily have been made in the '40s, draws more from other movies than real life. Even so, "Love Walked In" is a satisfactory diversion--especially if you wait to see it in the comfort of your own home.

Love Walked In, 1998. R, for sexuality, language and some violence. A TriStar Pictures presentation of a Jempsa Entertainment and Apostle Pictures production. Writer-director Juan J. Campanella. Based on a novel by Jose Pablo Feinmann. Producer Ricardo Freixa. Executive producer Jorge Estrada Mora. Cinematographer Daniel Shulman. Editor Darren Kloomok. Costumes David Robinson. Music Wendy Blackstone. Production designer Michael Shaw. Art director Shawn Carroll. Set decorator Janine Ramsey. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. Denis Leary as Jack Hanaway. Terence Stamp as Fred Moore. Aitana Sanchez-Gijon as Vicki Rivas. Danny Nucci as Cousin Matt. Moira Kelly as Vera. Michael Badalucco as Eddie Bianco.

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