‘Shining Through’ – ’92 Cinema Revue

#3 Film in the US Jan. 31- Feb. 2, 1992

All Time Domestic Gross – $21,633,781

Shining Through does the exact opposite of its title with a dull lifeless experience.

The Golden Raspberry Awards aka the Razzies is Hollywood’s farce of awards. The Razzies have also been a measurement for pretentious cinephiles to use as a guide to what bad cinema is. Yet, like the Academy Awards, they do not represent all cinema and only a small part. As director Bong Joon Ho said “The Oscars are not an international film festival. They’re very local.” The same applies to the Razzies.

They do not represent all bad cinema because A Talking Cat?!? would have swept the year it was released. They are also very cruel and mean. They make choices that are so baffling that makes someone say “It wasn’t that bad.” They nominated Danny DeVito as The Penguin from Batman Returns for Worst Supporting Actor for Pete’s sake. Why bring up the Razzies? It’s because Shining Through goes on to win the Worst Picture for 1992.

Shining Through is based on the novel of the same name by Susan Issacs. The story follows Linda Voss (Melanie Griffith) during a BBC interview recounting her experiences in World War II. Linda is Irish and Jewish living in New York working as a secretary for attorney Ed Leland (Michael Douglas) as a translator. What she uncovers in her translation is the letters received are code speak showing that Leland is an undercover government spy. The two begin a romance until the bombing of Pearl Harbor occurs.

Ed learns of a mission to get the plans for the VQ-1 flying bomb. The Nazis are planning to create the bomb and use it against the Allies. The person sent on the mission was murdered. Linda decides to take up the opportunity to finish the job much to the chagrin of Ed. Linda is now under the wing of another spy Konrad Freidrichs (John Gielgud) with a new identity as Lina. She warms up to Franze-Otto Detiech (Liam Nesson) to get more on the inside to uncover the plans. The real question is will she succeed.

Ed Leland (Michael Douglas) and Linda Voss (Melanie Griffith) discuss Ed’s true profression in his office. Source: 20th Century Studios

To answer that question would be to have invested interest in this film. I had none throughout the runtime of the film. Shining Through is a bad film not for being ludicrous or out there. It’s a bad film because it’s so boring. It is molasses paced at best. The intriguing part of the film where Linda becomes a spy happens forty minutes into the film. It never picks up from there except in the last twenty minutes of the film, but even that is a stretch. I will admit that I fell asleep at one point in the film, got up, and rewound it to see what I missed. Nothing of significance happened in that span of time. Liam Nesson finally showed up in the film when I woke.

Beforehand focuses on the relationship between Linda and Ed and their romance. That doesn’t work out due to the severe lack of chemistry between Douglas and Griffith. They have a love scene that has even less passion than a Cinemax softcore film. Every scene feels like they met for the first time and don’t know what else to do. It’s awkward throughout the film.

Griffith is a great comedic actress who is stunning in Working Girl but wasted here. The transition to drama is not much beyond doe-eyed and robotic expressions. The narration she gives also feels like the added narration in the theatrical cut of Blade Runner by Harrison Ford. It is as boring and uninterested in what is going on.

Douglas has presence and command. Yet, there’s not much bite to his performance. Douglas is going through the motions and knows it. Nesson is fine too with this film being wedge in the middle of Darkman and Schindler’s List the next year. Nesson’s always been a great actor, but like Douglas, is going through the motions. Everyone else feels cut and dry. They are working with what they have and trying to make it through the weak material given.

Linda Voss (Melanie Griffith) and Ed Leland (Michael Douglas) in the office once again. Source: 20th Century Studios

The premise is interesting, but the execution is poor. The trailer for this film tried to elevate the film as a grand return to classic romance and war films. It even tries to pull off a shameless ripoff of the famous final scene for Casablanca in the middle of the film. The film never reaches those heights. It is a shallow version of those films by not being engaging at all. It’s a pale imitation at best, a parody at worst.

The only exciting part of the film of note is the last five minutes. Ed goes to town on some Nazis in Switzerland at a quick pace. It is the only scene with some form of tension and thrills. It’s not the worst movie I’ve seen (it’s very far from it). It is one of the most boring films I have seen though. I regret saying Freejack sucked because that had fun dumb stuff every now and then. I’m wishing I had the $3.99 I spent to rent this back. At least Freejack was streaming.

Shining Through does not shine at all. Rather it rusts due to the boring execution of an interesting premise. It is the textbook example of cinematic NyQuil.

Revue Rating: 1 out of 5

Next Monday, February starts off with Sean Connery having the cure for cancer. It’s Medicine Man on the ‘92 Cinema Revue.

One thought on “‘Shining Through’ – ’92 Cinema Revue

  1. Pingback: Heads-Up Reflection: January’s Cinema Revue selections get recapped, February brings SNL fun, and ‘The Matrix’ gets animated | Cinema Revue

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