July 22, 2012

Union City

Hardly the debut you would want for rock 'n' roll's sexiest icon, Deborah Harry. It's a dreadfully dull, plodding, cheap-looking film noir drama from a short story by Cornell Woolrich. Harry plays a frumpy housewife whose husband (Dennis Lipscomb) accidentally murders a homeless man, and then conceals him in their Union City, New Jersey apartment. It's 90 minutes of pure nothingness, and it isn't even the kind of bad movie you can laugh at. It's just painful. Harry proved she could be a lot of fun on the screen in movies like John Waters' Hairspray (1988), but in this, she plays down everything that's hip and self-parodying about her. Even the blonde hair is eschewed in favor of her natural brunette color. When her character decides to go blonde at the end, it's a remarkable transformation that comes too late to be of any help to this mess. (The smartest thing Debbie Harry ever did for her career was buy a bottle of Peroxide and embrace a campy, mock-dull attitude.) A movie that tries to go against the best attributes of its cast is almost certainly doomed for failure. The bad filmmaking doesn't help either. It's poorly lit and visually unimaginative. With Everett McGill,  Sam McMurray, Irina Maleeva, and, in a small role, Pat Benatar. Directed by Marcus Reichert. The undistinguished music score is by Chris Stein, Harry's Blondie co-founder and one-time boyfriend. 1980.

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