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THE EMPERORíS NEW CLOTHES

Maybe itís director Alan Taylorís CV (primarily a string of one-time stints helming television shows like Six Feet Under), but this pretty, whimsical slice of revisionist history could benefit from a Napoleon complex. Thatís not to fault Ian Holm, whoís commanding in the dual roles of the avaricious Little Corporal and the boorish commoner drafted to impersonate him on St. Helena (thus allowing the bona fide Bonaparte to be spirited to Paris and stage his second recoup). Neither can we blame Iben Hjejle, who exudes empathy and tenderness as the buxom melon vendor who offers succor to the undercover emperor and, unaware of his identity, falls in love with him and forces him to see the small beauties of life as a commoner. But despite flashes of originality, as when the once-great leader passes incognito through Waterloo to find that itís become a tourist attraction selling tri-colored souvenirs of defeat, the film suffers from too many deadened longueurs. Itís as if Taylor didnít quite know what to do with a full two hours. In the end, neither cinematographer Alessio Gelsini Torresiís crystalline perspicacity nor the fine performances of Holm and Hjejle can save The Emperorís New Clothes from being as inconsequential as one of the pastries that bears Napoleonís name. (106 minutes)

BY MIKE MILIARD

Issue Date: June 27 - July 4, 2002
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