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'To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday'

By Rita Kempley
Washington Post Staff Writer
October 25, 1996

Gillian looks better after two years in the grave than most folks do above ground. It helps that the luminous, platinum-haired wraith is played by the luminous, platinum-haired Michelle Pfeiffer, whose husband Michael Pressman directed this dispirited "Ghost" for guys.

Peter Gallagher, the comatose hunk of "While You Were Sleeping," has regained consciousness, but not his senses, as David, a grieving widower haunted by his wifeís death . . . or perhaps by Gillian herself.

While David finds the situation comforting, his strident sister-in-law (Kathy Baker) decides itís high time he got over his obsession with Gillian. To that end, she and her wisecracking husband (Bruce Altman) invite an attractive friend (Wendy Crewson) to join them for a Labor Day weekend reunion at Davidís Nantucket Island beach house.

Frequent arguments mar the annual celebration, as the others try to make David see that his obsession is hurting his teenage daughter (Claire Danes). The gifted actress steals the show -- poor thing that it is -- as a child obliged to parent her dad, just when she has never needed a father more.

Written by David E. Kelley, the screenplay, like many play adaptations, still creaks of the boards. Itís blabby and cloistered, even when David ventures out to frolic at night with Gillianís blithe spirit. For all the moonlight and magic, the film scares up little in the way of enchantment.

© Copyright 1996 The Washington Post Company

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