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1990 film directed by Philip Kaufman, starring Fred Ward, Maria de Medeiros, Uma Thurman, Kevin Spacey, Richard E. Grant and Jean-Philippe Ecoffey. Running time is 2 hours and 16 minutes- and yet this beautiful film is still over all too quickly.

The movie is based on a true account from the diaries of writer Anais Nin about her love affair during her years in Paris with Henry Miller (notorious/excellent author of “Tropic of Cancer,” “Tropic of Capricorn” and numerous other novels that have been banned at one time or another). Anais Nin (Medeiros) and her husband Hugo (Grant) move to Paris in 1931 and soon meet Miller and his hauntingly gorgeous, mysterious wife June (Thurman). Anais is starved for adventure and sexual fulfillment in places other than in her husband, and she and Henry soon become lovers. Both Henry and Anais are extremely attracted to June, who wanders in and out of their lives, looking to create drama and in her own way, attempt to stir Henry to write a beautiful story- about her. Anais’s adventures with the couple awakens her to more sexual longings and fantasies, to the point where it frightens her.

This film is incredibly erotic, with terrific acting and sensuous music, and the cinematography is extraordinarily well-done. The film was the first to receive the NC-17 rating, meant to replace the previous X rating in attempt to lessen the sleazy stigma attached to movies with the marring letter. Alec Baldwin was originally supposed to play Miller, but Fred Ward replaced him in the role. While Baldwin may appeal more to the masses look-wise, Ward certainly deserved the part and gives a splendid performance- and looks much more like Henry Miller than Baldwin could even with makeup.

In reality, Anais Nin and Henry Miller carried on their affair for many years, though Nin remained married to her husband her entire life. She and Miller eventually parted ways romantically, but remained close friends until her death in 1977. She wrote voluminously in her journals about their relationship (and others), and her diaries are now published for viewing. The main character in Nin’s novel “Delta of Venus,” Sabina, is based on June. Both of these writers are worth reading, and this film worth viewing. Easily one of my favorites.

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