Owen Gleiberman
April 12, 1996 AT 04:00 AM EDT

Faithful

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
91 minutes
performer
Cher, Chazz Palminteri
director
Paul Mazursky
author
Chazz Palminteri
genre
Comedy

We gave it a C+

On her 20th wedding anniversary, Margaret (Cher), a rich, depressed Westchester housewife, receives a surprise visitor: a hitman who has been hired by her husband to kill her. The assassin, Tony (Chazz Palminteri), ties her to a chair and draws her into a windily flirtatious battle of the sexes — for a while, the film suggests a daytime talk-show yell-a-thon between Stanley Kowalski and Annie Hall. Then the weaselly, philandering husband (Ryan O’Neal) shows up. Directed by Paul Mazursky, from Palminteri’s adaptation of his stage play, Faithful sounds like a black comedy, but it’s more like an awkward hybrid of Deathtrap, Scenes From a Marriage, and a David Mamet barstool rant. Palminteri’s dialogue consists of giving new polish to some very old ideas about the ways men and women screw each other over. The movie is a bit of a crock, but give it this: It’s a crock that plays. Cher’s Margaret, once she gets out of bondage, is just vibrant enough to make you wish she’d lose both these louts.

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