Mike D'Angelo
November 12, 1999 AT 05:00 AM EST

Besieged David Thewlis, Thandie Newton (1999, New Line, 92 mins., R, also on DVD) Director Bernardo Bertolucci’s latest examination of obsessive love details the discordant relationship between a wealthy English composer (Thewlis) in Italy who attempts to woo his housekeeper, an African medical student (Newton), by buying the freedom of her political-prisoner husband. Relying more on rhythm than narrative, this is a glorious maelstrom of charged glances and hesitant overtures. Ultimately, however, it feels like a first-rate short film laboriously stretched to feature length. Reel Goodies (0:50) Pianist Thewlis courts his emotionally recessive servant with an unexpected burst of frenzied staccato passion. The Last Detail Newton starred with a young Nicole Kidman in the 1992 Australian prep school romance Flirting. B-

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