Breaking Up

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Breaking Up

Between his acclaimed performances in such Australian films as Proof and Romper Stomper and his turn in L.A. Confidential, Russell Crowe made a number of poorly received films outside Australia, with starring roles in low-budget action movies, small character turns in Hollywood films, and performances in middling dramas. A sadly typical example of Crowe's post-Australian, pre-L.A. Confidential work is the recently released Breaking Up, a depressingly flat, uninvolving romantic comedy/drama starring Crowe as a New York-based professional photographer who has an on-again, off-again affair with schoolteacher Salma Hayek. The film's one relatively novel conceit is that it begins where most romantic comedy/dramas end: with the couple having recently broken up. The film then proceeds to chart the couple's development as they squabble, get back together, and eventually drift apart, with the scenes of the couple together shot in color and scenes of the couple apart shot in black-and-white. Unfortunately, whether filmed in black-and-white or in color, Breaking Up is still a bland, directionless mess that falters in every possible respect: The script is anemic and stagy, the direction is bland and impersonal, and the two leads are flat and unconvincing. While this sort of film rises and falls on the basis of its leads' chemistry, Crowe and Hayek generate no heat together: During their love scenes, they don't even seem to exist in the same time zone. About the only thing that rings true about Breaking Up is its surprisingly moving final scene; it's bittersweet enough to make you wish it had appeared at the end of a better movie.

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