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‘Internal Affairs’

By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
January 12, 1990


Mike Figgis
Richard Gere;
Andy Garcia;
Nancy Travis;
Laurie Matcalf;
William Baldwin
Under 17 restricted

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After a preview screening of Paramount's "Internal Affairs," someone whose public-relations business it was to do so asked, "Did you like it?"

It was a scary question, not only because it reflected our dismaying, thumbs-up-or-down school of instant criticism (watch your TV for details) but also because she was talking about a Richard Gere film that was enjoyable. By that, I mean sick-enjoyable, I mean raunchy-enjoyable, because -- not to put too fine a point on it -- I can't stand the sight of Richard Gere. But as an unscrupulous L.A. cop who becomes the focus of an internal investigation, he cuts an effectively sleazy path through the movie, strutting, smiling and swaggering all the way.

He makes loathing fun.

Everyone in this movie does, because almost every performer is a walking Interview magazine mannequin; Barbie dolls, every one of them! Starring alongside Gere, for instance, is yup-and-coming Andy Garcia (Michael Douglas's pleat-conscious buddy in "Black Rain"), a slick internal affairs detective, who's married to a coiffed art curator (Nancy Travis) and who searches high and low for bad cops in the LAPD but keeps finding cover boys instead.

Glossy guys such as William Baldwin, a wife-beating, trigger-happy officer who snorts coke but still manages to keep a good head of mousse, and of course, the dean of walking surfboards himself, Gere, a nasty piece of well-groomed work, who uses women like the Metro, murders when he feels like it and is on the take.

There's little to say about director Michael Figgis's and screenwriter Henry Bean's good-cop-bad-cop plot, except that it's an excuse for the former's atmospheric abilities. The British director/scorer, who once played R&B with modern crooner Bryan Ferry and made the Melanie Griffith-Sting mood piece "Stormy Monday" (in which plot was nothing, but dry ice, neon lights and moody jazz were everything), goes to L.A.-town, looking for sleaze in all the right places.

Self-respecting humans with strange kicks, such as family values or an aversion to nasty sex and violence, already know not to see this movie, but those with strange axes to grind (like, you hate Richard Gere, for instance), or too much time, or demented senses of humor, and you know who you are, may just have a fun time of this.

© Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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