[Originally published in Movietone News 23, May-June 1973]
Two People represents the triumph of cinematic presence and naturally lush surfaces over script and selling campaign. Well, not quite a triumph, perhaps, but Two People is a much better movie—or experience to be had at the movies—than most descriptions of it have indicated, least of all its own Segal-like sell and Lelouchian outtakes. Peter Fonda, who handled his own self-directed star turn in The Hired Hand with unexpected modesty, takes a truly stellar leap toward attractiveness as a Vietnam deserter who has wearied of life in various exiles and has elected to go home and serve his time in order to get his own life back. Indeed, the whole film yearns toward taking a self-purging step beyond the puerilities of the Easy Rider school of contemporary self-loathing (and amid all that film’s virtues there certainly were more than a few puerilities).
As a Vogue covergirl who meets him on a train out of Morocco and reluctantly, then tenderly spends the night with him in Paris and falls in love with him by the time they reach New York City, the site of his incarceration-to-be, Lindsay Wagner communicates a reticence and wit, a resiliency and grace that may have more to do with behaving than with acting, but then behaving has frequently been more eloquent on screen than the most technically accomplished impersonation. Fonda and Wagner step around the occasional sophomoric wisdom of Richard De Voe’s script as circumspectly as possible and do their utmost to put us at ease once more. Bui the best reason for seeing the film is probably the cinematography of Henri Decaë, who, whether looking at a Moroccan landscape as seen through the protagonist’s reflection in a train window or a Paris hotel corridor steeped in auspicious and awful silence, conveys a genuine sense of importance surrounding this moment, this place, these two people.
Direction: Robert Wise. Screenplay: Richard De Voe. Cinematography: Henri Decaë (Morocco, France), Gerald Hirschfeld (New York). Music: David Shire.
The Players: Peter Fonda, Lindsay Wagner, Estelle Parsons.
Copyright © 1973 by Richard T. Jameson