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2 reviews, 4 user ratings

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Fatal Beauty
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Winning Whoopi"
4 stars

Forget those killjoy critics who dissed it, for it more than gets the job done.

Whoopi Goldberg, whose biggest fan I usually am not, gives an unexpectedly dynamite performance as Los Angeles narcotics detective Rita Rizzoli of African-American/Italian descent in the enjoyable comedy-drama action picture Fatal Beauty. and I'm perfectly willing to eat crow in my previous assessment of her as a non-talent. Rizzoli is feverishly dedicated to her job in trying to rid dangerous drugs from streets that turn its low-income residents into hopeless, desperate junkies; she sees that it's high-end compunction-deprived drug dealers living in mansions who're poisoning the lower echelon of society with little in the way of legal ramifications given their slick, expensive attorneys, and it disgusts her. She's given up any hope of a nurturing personal life being that she works mostly at night and feels so sullied by the scum she has to deal with on an everyday basis that it clings to her (the only affection she can show is to her cat that favors stealing the meat off her store-bought sandwiches when her back is turned). In her steadfast mission as a tighter of wrongs she's constantly being reprimanded by her mentor of a captain (John P. Ryan, usually cast as a heavy but surprisingly appealing for once) for eschewing proper police procedure; with the drug bosses leaving their underlings to take most of the chances there's little to no concrete evidence against them, but that doesn't stop Rizzoli from trespassing onto their posh abodes and intimidating them. Obviously Rizzoli is far from an original character, with her refusing to go "by the book" one of the oldest movie staples, but Goldberg immerses herself so far into her heroic interpretation that Rizzoli still emerges as a genuine character.

It's now clearly obvious why she was so lackluster in her first starring role in Steven Spielberg's specious The Color Purple: there, her acquiescent narrator Celia was too passive for the innately vibrant Goldberg to succeed as; it crippled, practically put a straitjacket on her, and she just didn't possess enough complexity to vividly convey the character's docility. And in her two follow-up efforts, Jumpin' Jack Flash and Burglar she was under-directed and allowed to be abrasively uncouth with very little in the way of human dimension - I was constantly backing away from the screen to get some distance. This time Goldberg has been given a character with some gravitas, and a genuine director in Tom Holland who graced us with the fine, witty horror picture Fright Night two years prior, and the difference is considerable. Holland has a mostly sure hand, and he shapes the scenes well (he doesn't rush them solely to get to the "good stuff") while still giving Goldberg aesthetic room to strut her stuff but within something of a dramatic framework - you never sense her cutting up just for the heck of it. She's especially affecting in her scenes with the always-welcome Sam Elliott, who plays the head of security for the city's biggest crime boss; his Mike Marshak has convinced himself it's alright to "look the other way" when it comes to his generous-paying employer's illegal activities, and Rizzoli is relentless in getting in his face and unearthing pangs of a conscience buried within. Their dialogue together is so true, and the chemistry between them so convincing, that this relationship alone makes Fatal Beauty worth seeing. (Goldberg delivers a teary monologue explaining why her once-drug-addicted self decided to go into police work that is just about as good as screen acting gets in this kind of genre assignment.) Luckily, Holland is able at staging gunfights, of which the picture has plenty, though the final shootout is protracted - it's a good seven to ten minutes longer than need be. Still, it wraps up satisfyingly enough, and if there were ever a sequel with Razzoli I wouldn't count myself out of being one of the first in line. The movie is commendable entertainment without requiring checking your brain at the door.

See it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=7525&reviewer=327
originally posted: 09/29/20 19:19:29
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User Comments

12/05/11 Saurs Spielberg can suck my left tit, Bitterpants. 3 stars
11/21/03 Charles Tatum Crappy 2 stars
4/24/03 Dr. Bitterpants Color Purple/Spielberg. Comic Relief/Williams/Crystal. Hollywood Squares/losers. 1 stars
4/17/03 mr. Pink Possibly Goldberg's worst. 1 stars
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  02-Oct-1987 (R)
  DVD: 06-Feb-2001



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