Starring: Rosanna Arquette, Madonna, Aidan Quinn
Director: Susan Seidelman
Running Time: 103 mins
Desperately Seeking Susan is an American film about a bored housewife who, looking for an escape from her life, finds herself on a bizarre adventure as she is mistaken for a woman named Susan.
I really didn’t take to this film. It’s a fun and different take on the story of mistaken identity, as well as a nice semi-adaptation of Alice In Wonderland, but nothing ever comes together all that well. With a loosely-structured story that’s really difficult to follow right the way through, nor any sort of strong or simply enjoyable comedy to laugh at, I found Desperately Seeking Susan a very frustrating watch throughout.
Before that, let’s quickly look at the few things that this film does well. Above all, if you want a fairly vague and loose story that plays on classic tropes of mystic adventures, then this is the film for you. It’s at times reminiscent of Martin Scorsese’s bizarre thriller After Hours (albeit not quite as gritty), as we see our leading lady being bumped around from here to there as she encounters all sorts of different people, becoming more and more distanced from her own life as people mistake her for someone else.
That general premise is what engaged me the most about this film, but there’s very little beneath the surface to grab you on any other level. The biggest problem is the lack of any particularly outstanding characters. Rosanna Arquette plays the woman who breaks out of her boring life and ends up on this wild adventure in New York City, but we don’t get enough emotional development from her that’s any more engrossing than simply that.
Alongside is Madonna, who doesn’t really bring anything special to the film apart from a little more attitude to fit her character, and Aidan Quinn, who genuinely is rather dull to watch, as he fails to bring in any sort of ambiguity or deep intrigue beyond a man who’s simply fascinated by the woman he ends up accidentally spending time with.
As a result, while the overall premise may have been interesting at first, there was never a moment in this film where I felt I really understood the characters, or was really engrossed by their emotional development over the course of the story.
Couple that with the film’s very loose structure that’s designed to mimic the dreamlike trance of Alice In Wonderland, and you have a film that’s incredibly difficult to follow, let alone be fully engrossed by.
You may be thinking, though, that this is a comedy, and that I’m taking things a little too seriously. That would be true, however the fact of the matter is that this film is a very poor comedy, not only failing to provide any laughs throughout, but also not managing to establish any sort of light-hearted atmosphere that could have made things far more enjoyable throughout.
Overall, then, I really wasn’t that impressed by Desperately Seeking Susan. It’s a film with a bit of potential at first, however it fails to execute that in any style, with a messy and frustrating story that’s worsened by poor comedy and a lack of emotional depth, all resulting in a very difficult watch throughout, which is why I’m giving it a 5.9.