Widower Rick O’Lette, an exec at the consulting firm Image (not to be confused with competitors Façade or Pretense), always has a put-down on hand, even at the expense of his lothario boss who lusts after Rick’s daughter, Eve. As in Verdi’s Rigoletto—itself a depoliticized adaptation of a Victor Hugo play—our hero puts out a contract on his patron. But unlike Verdi’s crying-on-the-inside hunchback court jester, Rick (Bill Pullman) is an embittered cad who fails to earn the audience’s sympathy, so the film falls short of its source’s tragic dimensions. That aside, Daniel Handler’s script and Curtiss Clayton’s direction hit all the right notes, especially in the final act. Surprisingly, there’s less sex here than in the 1851 grope opera, though the fat-soprano role is voluptuously filled by Agnes Bruckner’s less than virginal Eve—she’s fine, but she’s no Callas.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on September 14, 2004