Monday, June 27, 2011



Rated: PG-13

Stars: Marlon Brando, Johnny Depp, Faye Dunaway
Director: Jeremy Leven
Genre: Drama/romance

Assessment: GEM!

Any movie that can lift you out of the hypnotic, auto-pilot state of your everyday existence and show you a world where there is greater depth of living and loving, and do it in a thoroughly captivating manner, is one that I will rave about! Don Juan DeMarco is such a film.

A young man (Johnny Depp) wearing a cape and a mask is convinced that he is the legendary Don Juan, "the world's greatest lover." He has made love to over fifteen hundred women. But he ends up in a psychiatric hospital following an apparent suicide attempt because the only woman he has ever really love has rejected him. He is under the care of Dr. Jack Mickler, (Marlon Brando) who is under pressure to start medicating the guy because the dude is obviously delusional. But not so fast...the patient regales his psychiatrist with tales of growing up in Mexico, where he made love for the first time at age 16, avenged his father's death in a sword fight, and later ended up in an Arabian sultan's harem where he took on a "service" oriented role.

Fascinated by the young man's sincerity, (as he charms the pants off of the female employees of the facility) Mickler falls under his patient's spell, and comes to believe that he may actually be who he claims to be.

Don Juan tells his doctor that there are only four questions in life:

What is sacred?
Of what is the spirit made?
What is worth living for?
What is worth dying for?

The answer to each of these questions is: "ONLY LOVE."

The tail begins to wag the dog, and Dr. Mickler soon finds his spirit rejuvenated. He goes home to his wife, Marilyn, (Faye Dunaway) and says: "We've surrendered our lives to the momentum of mediocrity. What happened to the celestial fire that used to light our way?"

He also says: "GODDAMN, YOU'RE A GREAT BROAD, REALLY!" This is classic Brando, so reminiscent of his character in Last Tango In Paris that I wondered if there wasn't some subtle tongue-in-cheek parody of that role going on here, especially when he takes a piece of gum out of his mouth and disposes of it, another deja vu moment from the aforementioned film. (Am I the only one who notices these things?) Or maybe it's just that Marlon Brando, with all his idiosyncrasies, could never truly be anything other than himself. (Even in his blimped- out state of 300 pounds, or whatever he was for this movie.)

Don Juan DeMarco got a PG-13 rating when it came out, but there are as many bare naked ladies flitting about (and delightfully so) as there were in Eyes Wide Shut! Probably would have received an R by today's standards.

In the end, the fundamental question of Don Juan DeMarco isn't whether Depp's character really is who he thinks he is--but rather, are any of us really who WE think we are?