Film

Film

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When Will I Be Loved is titled with an unanswerable question. Does it refer to the movie’s eccentric macho-ist creator, James Toback, or its leading lady, Neve Campbell, shown first (and last) naked in the shower? The coltish, sinewy actress is the movie’s universal object of desire, but the character she plays is meant to be nobody’s fool—as her sleazy young boyfriend (Frederick Weller) and a wheezy old count (Dominic Chianese) discover when they strike a bargain for her favors, Indecent Proposal-style.

As befits a light comedy, Manhattan has the springtime blitheness of a Woody Allen tribute—except that this is Toback’s town. There are foursomes in Central Park and the streets are awash with moving and grooving, pimping and hustling rappers, bullshit artists, and friends of the director. Meanwhile, up in the clouds, the girlishly self-possessed Campbell entertains her lovers in a palatially la-di-da loft. While beady-eyed Weller is overwhelmingly repellent in the trademark Toback role of a motormouthed manipulator, Toback himself is almost droll in his one-scene turn as Hassan Al-Ibrahim Ben Rabinowitz, a portly professor of African American studies. In somewhat the same spirit, the maestro’s soundtrack mixes hip-hop with Glenn Gould. The resulting fashion statement may be less dope than dopey but, like the movie itself, it is also more wacky than wack.