This movie has made me realize that made-for-tv movies are really their own special breed of film. Because this movie, in some ways, is phenomenal, and yet it's not. It's really odd. It's a really good made-for-tv movie. Which is not to say that it's a good movie. Which is not to say that it's not worth watching. It's really quite curious.
The movie is ostensibly about Ayn Rand's torrid love affair with a younger man (and is based, as I understand it, upon the book written by his wife), but what it's _really_ about, if I may be so bold, is the way in which people attempt to rationally justify and control their emotions. This, I think, is what makes it kind of a remarkable film, and quite well done, all the more interesting, because the rationale employed here is Objectivism. And as it turns out, a sly premise of Objectivism is its valorization of absolute rationality, and what this film brilliantly illustrates is that at the end of the day, people just aren't fully rational. In other words, it illustrates the flaws of Objectivism, partly by showing that Ayn Rand can't live up to it. What's nice about the movie is that it's not a jerk about it. Rand, curiously enough, is portrayed in a touching, very human way. She's kind of a Quixotic character, actually, it's kind of lovely. The film realizes that she's misguided, but nonetheless has a tremendous amount of respect for her. It's not that you pity her at the end, but you have a kind of compassion for her, and yet you can't help but admire her at the same time. It's not that her tough-as-nails, hardass exterior is shown to be false, but rather, that there is a softer, vulnerable side to it as well. It's a tribute, in a sense, created by someone who has gotten older and wiser and yet still retains a touch of hero worship.
At the same time, you have a very interesting array of characters alongside Rand who illustrate different variants of the problem, and its moral dynamics. Her husband, who is a big softie, her lover, who is a total hypocrite, her lover's wife, a particularly fascinating creature who is a curious blend of emotion and intellect, her lover's lover, who is basically at the opposite end of the spectrum from Rand herself. Really quite well done. Conceptually, the film is pretty amazing, and rhetorically, it's quite persuasive. I could say a lot more about this, but honestly, I'm too tired. Moving on, the cast is kind of remarkable- Helen Mirren, who is amazing, Peter Fonda, who's quite good, Julie Delpy, who is entirely decent, and Eric Stoltz (bwahahaha) who is mediocre. Also, notably, there's a lot of sex, and quite well done. Obviously a movie made for cable, heh heh.
Unfortunately, there's also a wretchedly cheesy jazz soundtrack. Also, it looks like a made-for-tv movie. It's hard for me to put my finger on what that means exactly, perhaps someone can explain better? The sets, the costumes, the color scheme, I dunno, but there's just something tv about it. The melodrama has this odd canned effect, which is a pity, because it's actually a really poignant film.
So while you may not need to rent it, if you're couch surfing and stumble across it, don't touch that dial.