In this remake of Lina Wertmuller's 1974 "Swept Away . . . by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August," which was a sweet little movie starring Giancarlo Giannini and Mariangela Melato, Madonna plays a haughty rich woman named Amber with all the stirring subtlety such a role would clearly demand.
The wife of a vacuous businessman (Bruce Greenwood), she's on a pleasure cruise in the Adriatic. Well, it's not the pleasure cruise she had in mind. The yacht is a converted fishing boat. The crew members aren't compulsive about showering. And there's no gym aboard.
From the get-go she's cursing at everyone and everything in sight. A muscle-honed witch on a stick, she sits on the boat's single exercycle, yelling at the help for all kinds of imagined slights: the fish dinner is bad, the coffee is reheated instead of fresh.
She's so one-dimensionally nasty, you're actually embarrassed for the other characters, most of whom aspire to two dimensions.
Her chief target is first mate Giuseppe (Adriano Giannini, son of Giancarlo), a bearded, grungily modelish lackey whose main job seems to be sulking.
When she demands a ride in a dinghy with Giuseppe (whom she dubs Pee-pee), wouldn't you know it, the outboard breaks down. After a night or two marooned on the dinghy, they spot an island. But when they land, they realize it's deserted. No phones. Guess who's master of this domain now.
In short order, he's got her waiting on him hand and foot -- it's the only way he'll allow her to eat the fish only he can catch. And he forces her to call him "master." You get the feeling that Madonna, poster queen for female emancipation through pop, will be unable to sustain this role and kick that cocksure Pee-pee any minute.
Of course, Amber and Giuseppe find themselves drawn together. But what happens if they're ever saved?
-- Desson Howe, Washington Post Staff Writer