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[Short Reviews]

SIGNS & WONDERS

Director Jonathan Nossiterís film doesnít lack ambition or anger: it attempts to measure the effects of globalization on the European psyche. Although it suffers from a bombastic finale that matches its protagonistís growing instability, this is the kind of flawed film that lingers in the mind long after more entertaining and " successful " ones have faded.

Swedish-American businessman Alec Fenton (Stellan Skarsgård) lives with his wife Marjorie (Charlotte Rampling) and their two children in Athens, but heís carrying on an affair with an American woman. An amateur semiotician of sorts, heís convinced that the world is full of secrets hidden in numbers, colors, and patterns.

The film balances three stories: a personal, a political, and a metaphysical one. The latter two are the most obvious, but the first is a touching depiction of a man failing to navigate his way through a world filled with signs, most of them commodities, but revealing few wonders. These characters and situations create plenty of drama on their own, so itís a pity to find Nossiter shoveling on the " atmosphere " and turning genuine mystery into overblown contrivance. He gets a lot off his chest here, but thereís more bluster in it than substance.

By Steve Erickson

Issue Date: July 26- August 2, 2001