Total Eclipse1995

Director: Agnieszka Holland
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, David Thewlis, Romane Bohringer, Dominique Blanc, Felicie Pasotti Cabarbaye
Genre: Biography, Drama, Romance
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 111 minutes

This biographical account of the tempestuous, taboo-shattering love affair between two 19th century French poets--Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis) and Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo DiCaprio)--didn't do much at the box office when it was released in 1995. But after the success of Titanic, it became somewhat infamous when Playgirl magazine announced its intention to publish nude pictures of DiCaprio taken from the film. (Nobody much seemed to care that Thewlis, who also starred in Mike Leigh's Naked, also appears nude in Total Eclipse.) The truth is, the nudity in question only lasts for a few frames, but it's certainly in character for the young wild-man Rimbaud. Directed by Agnieszka Holland (Europa, Europa, The Secret Garden), Total Eclipse begins in 1870 when the newly married Verlaine is 24 and Rimbaud is 17. The volatile combination of their reckless passions, idiosyncratic talents, and obnoxious egos is a recipe for disaster--and l'amour fou--culminating in a two-year prison term for Verlaine who was convicted of sodomy. DiCaprio's work in this film (as well as This Boy's Life, What's Eating Gilbert Grape?, and The Basketball Diaries) proves he is a serious actor who's interested in risky, challenging work--not just the matinee idol he became in the wake of Titanic. --Jim Emerson

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