Following her husband s death, a wife discovers and confronts her husband’s lover. Their mutual pain, love, envy and jealousy bring them together in an unexpected emotional and physical relationship. (Imdb)
Kate, una donna ancora piacente in età matura, viene una sera avvertita che il marito Richard Morris, altrove per ragioni di lavoro, si trova colpito da infarto in un ospedale. Accorsa sul posto, la donna trova il marito in coma (morirà poi subito). Nel suo bagaglio in albergo, vi è un libro, evidentemente prestatogli da qualcuno. Presto Kate non solo comprende con amarezza che l’adorato marito (16 anni di felice matrimonio) aveva un’amante, ma che questa è Josie – detta Giogiò – una splendida venticinquenne che lavora come fiscalista presso l’azienda di Richard (che faceva il floricultore insieme al socio Peter). Josie è stata con Richard fino al momento che una ambulanza lo ha portato all’ospedale. Essa non nasconde tutto questo alla vedova, che la ragazza dimostra di conoscere perfettamente attraverso le descrizioni di Richard. Senonché Kate, anziché nutrire verso la rivale un odio ben comprensibile o addirittura ignorarla, si lascia vincere dalla curiosità, prende a interrogarla circa il marito e finisce con il restarne come ammaliata. Presto Giogiò va a vivere in casa di lei (un figlio adolescente studia lontano dal domicilio paterno) e tra le due ex-rivali si instaura un rapporto morboso e anomalo, nel ricordo del defunto, ma anche nella reciproca attrazione e sfida. Nè manca la componente della possessività: Kate è gelosa dei giovani amici (tra i quali anche probabili amanti) della disinvolta Josie e questa lo è, a sua volta, poiché Kate cede una sera alla discreta, ma profonda devozione che Peter ha da sempre provato per lei. Il rapporto è stretto, Kate vende l’argenteria di casa per fare costosi regali all’amica. Ma la differenza di età, la spavalda impudenza di Giogiò, l’assillante ricordo del morto Richard, quel mutuo e ambiguo legame, inducono Kate a far scendere Josie dalla macchina, proprio mentre le due donne hanno intrapreso un viaggio di vacanza. (Cinematografo.it)
IF it does nothing else, ”Richard’s Things” illustrates what dire trouble an actress can land in when she works with a director with no understanding of her talents. Liv Ullmann, who can be so very sensitive and authentic, is this time called on to play a preposterous soap-opera queen. Looking doughy and frumpy, wearing a perpetual hitme expression, Miss Ullmann is cast as a widow who does little but sulk and tremble.
The ”things” of the title were women, you see, and early in the movie it turns out that the late Richard had two of them. The other one was no bargain either. But Miss Ullmann’s Kate Morris, behaving with the same dreary listlessness that probably put Richard under, decides to have an affair with her female rival all the same.
The dialogue in ”Richard’s Things,” which opens today at the Cinema II, was written by the novelist Frederic Raphael, on whose book the movie is based. In all fairness, the screenplay sounds as if it might read slightly better than it plays. It would have to. ”Do you seriously believe that you meant anything to Richard? He was a middle-aged man, and you were simply a young girl,” the widow cries. ”Yes,” says the mistress. ”And you weren’t, were you?” Later on, the mistress declares, ”I’m not sure if you’re being kind or you’re being very cruel.” Even later, the wife invites the mistress to move in with her, saying, ”You can stay here for nothing.” ”Nothing is sometimes too much,” the sage young tootsie replies.
”Richard’s Things,” which was directed by Anthony Harvey and is even more hopeless than Mr. Harvey’s ”Players,” is the kind of movie in which characters wear bright red when they’re happy and black when they aren’t. It is also suffused with Georges Delerue’s blowzy music and governed by that mysterious force of nature called Woman’s Intuition. The wife and the mistress don’t always have to say things (although, goodness knows, they spend enough time talking each other’s ears off), they just know. The wife, for instance, spots a young girl at the greenhouse where Richard had worked, and she knows this was Richard’s mistress. She spies a bouquet of white flowers on Richard’s grave, and bingo! The wife, incidentally, swipes these flowers, takes them home and pensively minces them with a scissors. Characters in ”Richard’s Things” favor odd and always improbable behavior.
The love affair between the two women is depicted with the dullest of good taste, so little is known about their grand passion. The key feature of the romance seems to be jealousy rather than sex, however. As the young mistress Josie, playing what is very much the Lesley-Anne Down role, Amanda Redman is so vivacious and pretty that it becomes hard to believe she could become so fixated on the tiresome Kate. Perhaps she’s just mischievous and wants to shock the community. When Kate’s mother-in-law drops by one morning and sees Josie in the garden at Kate’s house, she immediately knows this isn’t just a friend or adviser or Avon lady. How does she know? Woman’s intuition, of course. What sensitive creatures these women are! Janet Maslin (Janet Maslin, New York Time)