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CALLAS FOREVER

Franco Zeffirelliís film isnít howlingly bad enough to be camp, but it isnít good enough either to keep you from wondering whether you wouldnít be better off washing the dog. As all the world knows, the diva was in a truly bad way toward the end ó pills, drink, boredom, depression, social isolation, you name it. "I told you I donít want to sing again!", Callas (Fanny Ardant) fumes at impresario Larry Kelly (Jeremy Irons), who is one of Zeffirelliís two alter egos in this flimsy 111-minute soaper. The other is Estéban Gómez (Manuel de Blas), whose aim is to direct the singer in a lip-synching film version of Carmen using (I presume) the old Georges Prêtre recording. This of course never happened. Goodness, what have we lost? Anyway, the diva starts fuming again. "I denounce Maria Callas!" she says. By this point, you can imagine a theater audience rising to its feet in assent. Ardant, while fuming, swings her hips a lot, never getting the elusive Callas accent quite right. A distracted-looking Irons keeps blinking his eyes, as if impersonating Richard Nixon. 111 minutes, we said. Here pooch!

BY RICHARD BUELL

Issue Date: November 26 - December 2, 2004
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