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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the endemic seach for liberation in 1930's Paris
This 1990 film, directed by Philip Kaufman, is set in Paris in 1931. This was a time and place between the two world wars that attracted writers and artists to a bohemian lifestyle, a time of discarding old conventions and embracing experimentation. Here, Henry Miller, an American expatriate wrote his wildly erotic books, which were banned in the United States. And...
Published on Oct. 26 2002 by Linda Linguvic

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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars As interesting as reading Henry Miller.
For all its notoriously explicit subject matter - the story of an affair between two famous writers on sexuality, Anais Nin and Henry Miller, the film features many heterosexual and lesbian couplings, mini-orgies, screenings of period pornography, scenes in bordellos etc. - 'Henry And June' doesn't further the Hollywood biopic beyond the reductive absurdities of the 1930s...
Published on Feb. 25 2002 by darragh o'donoghue


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the endemic seach for liberation in 1930's Paris, Oct. 26 2002
By 
Linda Linguvic (New York City) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Henry & June [Import] (VHS Tape)
This 1990 film, directed by Philip Kaufman, is set in Paris in 1931. This was a time and place between the two world wars that attracted writers and artists to a bohemian lifestyle, a time of discarding old conventions and embracing experimentation. Here, Henry Miller, an American expatriate wrote his wildly erotic books, which were banned in the United States. And Anais Nin, known for her extensive diaries about her sensory experiences, began her literary career here. It's no wonder that the two of them would meet and couple. They were both married at the time and this film is about the complex relationships between Henry, Anais, and their respective mates, all searching of a kind of liberation which was endemic at the time.
Fred Ward plays Henry as a crass American with a Brooklyn accent that makes native New Yorkers, such as myself, cringe. He's all man though and it's easy to see why Anais Nin, played by the large-eyed petite Portuguese actress Maria de Medereiros, is attracted to him. Her own husband, Richard E. Grant, is attractive as well, and it's clear that they have a good romantic life together, but he's willing to look the other way at his wife's desire for others. When Miller's wife, June, played by Uma Thurman, a fiery androgynous mother-earth figure, comes on the scene, Anais Nin finds herself attracted to her as well. This sets the scene for some interesting complexities.
The video is two hours and 16 minutes long and I expected to watch only half of it one evening and the rest of it the next night. However, from the moment it started I was completely captured by the story and just had to watch it all the way through. The cinematography is so good that it was even nominated for an academy award, not for just the excellent views of Paris, but for the way the intimate scenes are done which manage to convey the relationships and the sensualities of the moment while avoiding being explicit. The focus is on the romance and the concepts rather than the physical acts. This kept the scenes erotic and it also moved the story forward. I was totally intrigued and kept wondering what would happen next.
The acting was uniformly good, but special note goes to Maria de Medeiros who played Anais Nin. As she works primarily in French films, I had never seen her before. She uses her huge dark eyes and facial expresses so well, that just a glance conveys layers of meaning. She's the focal point of every scene, in spite of the larger and more voluptuous Uma Thurman. And that's exactly what the director intended.
Some might find this film slow as the drama and tension is just about the people, not about world events or outside influence. However, it manages to create a time and a place and people that influenced the literary world as well as the mores of future generations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A journey of self-discovery and fulfillment, July 23 2003
By 
Andrew Parodi (Oregon, United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Henry & June (Widescreen) (DVD)
Though HENRY AND JUNE is primarily thought of as an erotic tale, I view it as the journey of self-discovery, and quest for fulfillment, of the four main characters: Anais Nin and her husband Hugo Guiler; Henry Miller and his wife June. Since the setting of this journey is 1930s Paris it is only logical that it would occur within an erotic context, but I advise the viewer to look beyond the steamy scenes and to search out the underlying themes.
After a few viewings of this movie, and readings of Anais Nin's diaries upon which this movie is based, what comes clear to me is that the characters are two halves of a whole person:
1) Anais Nin, the bored housewife who dreams of erotic adventure but feels trapped by, and is financially dependent upon, her husband; June Miller, the worldly woman who shifts between New York and Paris, has affairs with women, and occasionally works as a prostitute to support her husband.
2) Hugo Guiler (husband of Anais Nin), the workaholic banker who eventually comes to be financially responsible for all four protagonists; Henry Miller, the unemployed writer who has abdicated all conventional responsibilities and who is dependent upon the charity of his friends in order to survive.
It's a highly unconventional story to say the least, but that's exactly what makes it so interesting. Watch it with an open mind and you will see that there is more to the story than just sex. You will see four people on a quest for fulfillment and self-discovery, doing so in the context of sexually liberated 1930s Paris.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars As interesting as reading Henry Miller., Feb. 25 2002
This review is from: Henry & June (Widescreen) (DVD)
For all its notoriously explicit subject matter - the story of an affair between two famous writers on sexuality, Anais Nin and Henry Miller, the film features many heterosexual and lesbian couplings, mini-orgies, screenings of period pornography, scenes in bordellos etc. - 'Henry And June' doesn't further the Hollywood biopic beyond the reductive absurdities of the 1930s and 40s. Throughout, the film's grinding (DEFINITELY no pun intended) and endless 130 minutes, I was irresistably reminded of the mythically silly Curtis Bernhardt film about the Brontes, 'Devotion' (1946), which featured the classic exchange: 'Hello, Dickens'; 'Hello, Thackeray'. Kaufman's film groans with moments like these, not just in the introduction of characters - 'This is my friend, the writer Henry Miller...he'll never be published' - but in the way locals greet the bohemian leads ('Bonjour, Mussyuur Meelur' 'Sah vah?'); the way intellectual discussion is reduced to crass platitudes; the telegraphed reminders of cultural or historical signposts (a screening of 'L'Age D'Or' with mild heckling; Hitler bleating on the radio); the dopey use of literal montage (Nin and Miller making love while a pot bubbles, or Hugo plucks the guitar).
Anais Nin was arguably the first major writer to ask for writing, especially writing about sex, to be written for and by women, from a woman's point of view and experience, rather than having to make do with the usual hand-me-down male fantasies.
The film tries to show this gap between male and female ways of looking, not only by setting up spectacles in which we concentrate on the voyeurs of each sex, and the different way they react to what they see; but in offering two paralell, gendered narratives. The male story centres on Miller's attempt to write 'Tropic Of Cancer': it is a masculine, linear narrative, which starts with Henry as a hopeless, uncomprehending boor, and ends with the completed manuscript - in other words, a closed narrative leading to quantifiable achievement. Nin's female narrative is more concerned with savouring and analysing every moment, mixing fantasy, dream and reality - although this narrative supposedly charts her development from curious, child-like bourgeois to sexually experienced woman, Nin teaches Miller more than he can ever give her. This difference is shown in the film by the way her major writing is her Journal, open, unplanned, plotless, a work that can only end with her death.
The major problem is that Kaufman doesn't dramatise this opposition. He is only concerned with creating atmosphere, a bogus image of a non-existent France in which amiable peasants play musette, do magic tricks and loiter in the streets; in which orgiastic carnivals drum through the night, and brothels cater to every taste. There is no sense of the deep divisions at the time in France between Right and Left that would lead to the trauma of the Occupation - the protest at the Bunuel film is easily laughed down, whereas in real life it was subjected to fascist vandalism; the policemen are so amiable as to allow themslves be swallowed by the bohemian fun. There is no attempt to account, for example for what it might be truly like to be a prostitute in such a milieu, shorn of the fantasy - these girls have no life beyond their professional duties. The vapid decor and soft-focus cinematography smothers everything in a smooth glow that makes a delapidated tenement as salubrious as a rich banker's mansion. And isn't it a bit off that Nin, one of the leading feminist thinkers of the 20th century, is redcued to being a bad poet of the erotic, and a simperingly infantile one at that (there is little mention of how poor and monotonous a writer Miller truly was - June mockingly compares him to Dostoevsky, but Thurman's performance is so lamentable it doesn't count as a critique). What really exposes this film as a sham is its unimaginative treatment of sexuality - in lingering over naked female flesh, and especially in the soft-porn sapphic grappling, the film ignores Nin's plea and addresses itself to male voyeurs the world over.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Henry in Love w/ June, Anais, Paris, Henry....., March 31 2002
By 
Doug Anderson (Miami Beach, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Henry & June [Import] (VHS Tape)
Well the problem with this film is the source material and subject matter, Henry Miller is more a self celebrating clown than a great writer. Anais was perhaps the better writer and is still known for her literate blend of psychological nuance & erotica but the Henry/Anais/June love triangle has been a bit over celebrated, also you just can't help comparing this effort with Kaufmanns finer previous one. In his last movie Philip Kaufman chose a Milan Kundera novel, Kundera's a much better writer and Unbearable Lightness of Being is full of weightier themes. Henry and June, and Anais seem like trifling bohemes next to that magnificent trio of Franz, Sabina and Tereza. Still Kaufman proves he is adept at recreating interesting historical context whether it be 1960's Prague or 1930's Paris. Both films are favorites of mine but they are in such different categories. Unbearable Lightness of Being is in the classic category, and Henry and June is not. Maybe what is a little confusing about Henry and June is that we are asked to accept that this love triangle is important because it was the psychological substratum that shaped Henry the writer, but its only important if you accept the assumption(apparently held by Kaufman) that Henry's writing is important. A lot of people like Henry, I've read half a dozen of his books and enjoyed them but he's kind of the writing equivalent of a snake oil salesman. He's a bit of a con artist. And what he's selling is Henry Miller, each book is a new version of himself, no one has ever written so many words about themself, only Anais comes close in her diaries. If they had both become great writers or even significant ones the movie would make more sense. As it is the film excuses a lot of selfish action and self-centeredness and all in the cause of mediocre art. Still the film is fun as a celebration of bohemian Paris and all the festive and furtive rites and rituals that made up an atmosphere in which artistic values were cultivated. Kaufman may have done better to choose a greater artist.
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5.0 out of 5 stars unforgettable, Jan. 8 2002
This review is from: Henry & June [Import] (VHS Tape)
i first saw this film when i was sixteen on video as i couldn't see this in the theatres due to the nc-17 rating ofcourse. i have to say that this film looks every bit as good today as it did back then. the film is far from being labled as soft porn as it has many wonderful performances by some of the greatest actors/actresses to ever grace the screen & the sex scenes which are shown here are all tastefully done. i'd read some of henry miller's work before watching this film & i have to admit that fred ward makes a splendid, believable henry miller come to life. great nods should also go out to maria de medeiros who gives much spirit to the passionate & much loved anais nin as well as uma thurman who gave the performance of a lifetime as miller's beautiful wife june. i visit this film from time to time & i always see something new each time i watch it. if you desire a film which has intelligent dialogue, fabulous acting, & a timeless theme then henry & june is the film for you. if you enjoyed jurassic park 3, you probably won't find this film very fascinating.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hot! Hot! Hot!!!, Oct. 25 2001
This review is from: Henry & June [Import] (VHS Tape)
Perfect! Having read all of Anais Nin's diaries, I was prepared to be mildly disappointed in this movie, as I usually am with most books-made-into-movies. But it was simply wonderful. The actor and actress literally became Anais Nin and Henry Miller. It brought their love affair alive in a very erotic, tactile way. I could almost feel the heat coming from the tv screen!! You *MUST* watch this movie with a lover to be sure, so you can melt into each other's arms after the sizzling love scenes.
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3.0 out of 5 stars A good primer for reading Henry Miller's books, Sept. 8 2001
This review is from: Henry & June (Widescreen) (DVD)
This movie is a good primer for reading Henry Miller's books... in 1991 I watched this movie and was drawn in by the charisma of Henry Miller's charcter played brilliantly by Fred Ward... I thought, who is the charasimatic one here? Henry Miller or Fred Ward... it turned out that (taking nothing away from Fred Ward), Henry Miller is as charasimatic (if not more so), than Fred Ward's portrayal here. Uma Therma plays the part well of June (or Mara), and Maria de Medeiros is a dead ringer for Anaïs Nin. That said, the movie is a little sluggish in pace, so it requires some patience to sit through, but it does have some great (redeming) moments...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Life as art, July 12 2001
By 
Angelyn Taylor (St.Louis, MO, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Henry & June [Import] (VHS Tape)
I love this film, but don't watch it if you are not prepared to question the status quo, what is true morality, if not the morality that is dictated to us by society? Is it possible to define one's own morality on one's own terms? Particularly if you happen to be a woman, are you prepared to think for yourself and define your life as art, by the terms dictated by your inner landscape and stand up proud, even though people will snipe and call you...at best... immoral and wanton, a femme fatal instead of a woman who thinks and truly lives. Anais Nin did so, and I find it facinating that the reviews for this movie are so much like the reviews of Nin's own books, specifically her diaries, some get it, some are terribly threatened by her and harrangue her with attacks on her character to reassure themselves that the staus quo is to be put up as unquestionable, and that women should be "good" and shut thier mouths and accept what they are told to be. Kaufman has created an erotic masterpiece, portraing the soul of the characters hauntingly (Maria De Medieros incarnares the deceased Nin beautifully) if not a slave to the letter of the order of events, his artistic liberties evoke a certain truth that underlies the diaries. His depiction of paris in the 1930's the artists, the prostitutes is beautiful and rich. This book opens doors and asks subtle layers of questions that must be adressed by thinking people who choose to live rather than accept placidly. You cannot watch this film once and have seen all of it, understood the subtelties or expierienced the lush and shocking truths revealed. Nin and Miller, or at least Nin, would have been pleased I think.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Literate Passion, April 12 2001
By 
Moira D. Russell (Seattle, WA, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Henry & June (Widescreen) (DVD)
One of the most underrated movies of the 90s. (It also marks a disappointing moment when the studio _could_ have backed up an NC-17 film not porn but meant for _real_ adults....but caved to puritanism instead). The top two reasons to see it are the performances of Maria de Medeiros as Anais Nin (it's almost a reincarnation) and Uma Thurman as June, two of the sexiest, most intelligent, passionate portrayals of women in recent cinema. Forget Thelma and Louise -- these two are a combustible pair. Fred Ward's performance as Henry Miller, too low-key, is pretty much lost in the shuffle, without any of the dynamic magnetism Miller had in spades. The movie explores the nature of desire, infatuation, obsession, and real love, and is pretty faithful to the actual events -- but some elements (such as the significance of June's puppet Count Bruga, made for her by her lesbian lover, Jean) are lost in the translation to the screen. For people bored to tears by the dichotomy of soulless porn on the one hand and Hollywood mush on the other, this is an intelligent and _sexy_ movie. Two lovely companion books are Anais Nin's diary "Henry and June," on which the movie was based, and Nin's and Miller's unexpurgated letters, "A Literate Passion." That title sums up both their lives and the movie based on them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Hauntingly Beautiful, Feb. 13 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Henry & June [Import] (VHS Tape)
An exquisite look at the lives of two literary geniuses. Their work and their love for each other was one. Some of the most tender and passionate love scenes I have seen from a male actor (Fred Ward). His gruff nature on one side, but his sensitive passion on the other side. The cinematography in these scenes was superior. Simple sensuality.
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Henry & June (Widescreen)
Henry & June (Widescreen) by Philip Kaufman (DVD - 1999)
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