Mr. Jones (1993) / Drama-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for language, mild violence and sexuality
Running Time: 114 min.
Cast: Richard Gere, Lena Olin, Delroy Lindo, Tom Irwin, Anne Bancroft, Bruce Altman, Amanda Chang
Director: Mike Figgis
Screenplay: Eric Roth, Michael Cristofer
Richard Gere (Chicago, Pretty Woman) stars as Mr. Jones, a man who frequently lives his life on a constant high. Perhaps too high, as his often erratic behavior has been deemed dangerous enough to land him in mandatory psychiatric treatments, administered by Swedish doctor, Libbie Bowen (Olin, The Ninth Gate). Her diagnosis? Bipolar manic depression that causes him to live life fluctuating between episodes of energy bursts and severe downs that have him suicidal. Mr. Jones rejects taking the medicine that will help treat him whenever possible, which lands him in a mental institution, where he can be under the constant care of Dr. Bowen, although the attraction between the two threatens to jeopardize her career and his mental health.
There are two elements at play in Mike Figgis' (Leaving Las Vegas, Cold Creek Manor) misfire, a case study of a man trying to cope with his mental affliction and a romance, and neither of them convinces. The primary problem comes from the typical Hollywood treatment of the disorder, which plays things as cute as possible, or as deadly, whenever the situation seems to call for it. Bipolar not only describes Mr. Jones the man, but also the movie, which veers between schmaltzy comic bits and manipulative tearjerker elements from scene to scene in predictable rhythms. The character of Mr. Jones is still interesting to observe, although Gere makes his condition seem more glamorous than the reality of the disorder would dictate. As far as romance goes, it's a mostly vacuous attempt to push Jones to the brink of sanity, a complete plot device that is as hollow as they come.
Perhaps as a television movie of the week, Mr. Jones might prove par for the course in terms of dramatic fare. As a major motion picture release, it just doesn't have the weight to seem very compelling, and certainly not the realism. Perhaps Gere's fans will enjoy his cut-loose performance, but viewers seeking a good romance or heartfelt drama probably won't be sated by anything the creators of Mr. Jones have to offer.
©2004 Vince Leo