Crocodile [2000/I]

Director: John Stainton
Stars: Steve Irwin
Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 180 minutes

The vertigo-inducing ups and downs of the 1980s and '90s business world is cunningly intertwined with an unusual romance in Friends and Crocodiles, an intriguing tv-movie from BBC auteur Stephen Poliakoff. Paul (Damian Lewis, Band of Brothers), a wealthy developer, hires Lizzie (Jodhi May, The Turn of the Screw) on a whim to be his secretary--and then, after she helps him marshal his wide-ranging ideas into a shape that could be put into action, drives her away with his self-destructive need for chaos. But over the next couple of decades, as their careers rise and fall, their paths keep crossing. Each has something the other needs to truly do great things, but their contrasting temperaments make collaboration almost impossible. This description may sound dry, but the movie isn't; writer/director Poliakoff and his cast have crafted vivid, believable characters thrust into tense, often visually spectacular circumstances--the parties on Paul's estate will inspire both envy and disgust, while scenes from the venture capitalist world are almost unnerving as they capture the foolhardy confidence of businesspeople feeling their way in the dark. The push and pull of Paul and Lizzie's relationship will feel strikingly familiar to anyone who's had an intense work relationship, a romance not of the flesh or even the mind, but of the will to achieve. A fascinating fable of imagination and discipline. --Bret Fetzer

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