Movie Review: Cousins (1989)

“They already have a lot in common. Her husband is sleeping with his wife.”

3 Stars
Cousins (1989)

Cousins (1989)


Director: Joel Schumacher

Cast: Ted Danson, Isabella Rossellini, Sean Young

Synopsis: Two people whose partners are having an affair begin to fall in love with one another.


Cousins is a rare example of Hollywood managing to remake a foreign-language hit without making a fist of it. Ted Danson (Saving Private Ryan, Ted) and Isabella Rossellini (White Nights) play a couple related through marriage who find themselves drawn to each other after discovering that their respective spouses have slept with one another. The married couples both clearly seem to be wrong for each other, a point stressed by the way scenes involving William Peterson and Sean Young (Blade Runner), the cheating partners, take place in the materialistic surroundings of car showrooms and department stores while Danson and Rossellini share scenes in the more spiritual environs of parks and lakes.

Peterson’s pretty good as Rossellini’s vain and shallow husband, finding just the right balance between selfish disregard for his family and a kind of self-pitying self-righteousness that is utterly false to everyone but him. He knows what he has in his wife and family is precious but, unable to curb his infidelity, manages to find blame in others. Rossellini radiates the same inner serenity that so typified her mother’s performances in the 1940s and 1950s, and also bids fair to be her double: the same full lower lip and clean jawline. Danson is personable, but doesn’t really convince as a ballroom instructor; the ghost of Sam Malone is too strong for him to shake off, which is perhaps why his movie career never really took off when Cheers ended.

While Cousins provides mostly mature and insightful entertainment, it tries to cover too much ground so that we never seem to spend enough time with any of the characters, all of whom are likable in their own way. Funniest moment of the film comes from the redoubtable Lloyd Bridges (The Rainmaker, Airplane!) who sleepily believes he’s taken a call from beyond the grave from his brother, whose widow he has been courting, after taking a call in which Peterson, who thinks he’s talking to Danson, brusquely warns him to keep away from his wife.

(Reviewed 1st November 2011)





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