Zack and Claire Elliot had a lot in common: They liked the same poetry, hummed the same Gilbert & Sullivan songs and memorized the lines of the same old movies. They had a couple of good jobs and a southern California mortgage. They both liked men. "Making Love" is the story of a man who discovers he's a homosexual and an exploration of the phenomenon of exiting the closet. The development is suspenseful as Zack, played by Michael Ontkean, evolves from being overly curious when he sees two men together on a motorcycle at a stoplight, to leaving his wife of eight years for his altered sexual preference. When is he going to tell her, and how? The question keeps our interest, and the audience laughs knowingly as wife Kate Jackson assures her husband, "I can handle it -- no matter what it is -- but I cannot handle the silence." The reason they laugh is that they don't care. It's not so much that the subject embarrasses them -- you can be fond of the drag queens in "Outrageous," or held captive to the TV screen by "Brideshead Revisited." But here the players just don't hook into one's sympathies. There is a ponderous and endless intellectualization of the subject: Is homosexuality a reaction to a girlfriend who would rather go to graduate school than get married? Or is it caused by failure as a rightfielder in the Little League? This intellectualization extends, ad nauseam, to the confrontation, when Zack overloads with rapid-fire insights -- "Maybe it's brotherhood bonding . . . maybe it's the need for another man's approval . . ." and so forth. The action is often interrupted with curious soliloquies by the wife and by the husband's first lover, played by handsome Harry Hamlin, whose square jaw runs parallel to the movie scree. The audience squirms as it plays unwilling therapist. Worry lines crease Kate Jackson's brow. She's talking it out. Her face fills the screen, about the same size it would be if she were sitting across a small table from us. We are forced to listen. We are riveted even if we don't want to be. Sometimes one's head tries to turn but it can't: that would be rude. We are her confidant, and we don't even know her. It's like one long lunch with someone who's got to tell you about his or her problem, and you're a listening post. But at lunch you are sympathetic.
MAKING LOVE -- At the AMC Academy, Jenifer Cinema, Loehmann's Plaza, NTI Tyson's Center, Roth's Seven Locks and Wheaton Plaza.