On the heels of his promising 1994 indie debut Fresh, Boaz Yakin delivered a hatefully stacked deck against Orthodox Jewry with A Price Above Rubies (1998). Then he went to Hollywood, and, by his own self-lacerating account, sold out. As it turns out, the workmanlike Uptown Girls and Remember the Titans were masterpieces of cinema compared with this misbegotten retreat into self-financed auteurism. Not since Liliana Cavani’s epically stupid The Night Porter has a filmmaker so wantonly ripped off the Holocaust for the unsavory purpose of strutting his unprocessed sadomasochistic fantasies. Yakin is a slick director of actors, which means that Jacqueline Bisset and Josh Lucas are disconcertingly good as a New York Jewish mother destroyed by a long-ago concentration camp affair with a Nazi doctor, and the charming but feckless son poisoned by her baleful influence. Masquerading as brave provocation, Death in Love is an incoherent stew of twisted sex, diabolical surgery, existential despair, and oedipal rage, punctured by feeble excursions into genre with the absurd arrival of an elderly stranger given to throwing men off tall buildings. Someday, a wise and potent film will be made about the Holocaust’s legacy on succeeding generations. Posing as a study in evil, Death in Love is claptrap that confuses bile with art.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 15, 2009