Actually three love stories in one. There's Harry Wolper and his long departed wife, putting the lie to "till death do us part." Then there's the developing relationship between Meli and Wolper. And finally the impulsive young love of Boris and Barbara. All interwoven like so much spaghetti. There's so much love in the air that this would be a great date movie so long as both parties are comfortable with the occasional detours into science and philosophy. The dialogue is usually sharply written and often witty, almost intellectual. The editing, though, was a bit choppy.
In today's world, where human cloning is coming ever closer to reality and paranoia about it is common, Jeremy Leven's screenplay should be a good reminder that genes don't make us who we are. As Boris said, even a cloning breakthrough wouldn't be able to bring back the woman he loved, for he could never recreate the experiences that originally shaped her mind and soul.
Peter O'Toole again plays his patented charming eccentric. It's a role virtually tailor-made for him, and he carries it well. Whether he's spouting technical or medical jargon, wistfully remembering his lost wife, or rhapsodizing on the nature of God and the Big Picture, O'Toole truly loses himself in this character and comes through as totally convincing. Vincent Spano and Virginia Madsen showed great chemistry as the young college couple. Mariel Hemingway was the weak link. Her character was supposed to be street-smart and self-assured but unfortunately often came across as simply shrill.
The melancholy score meshes well with the movie, successfully evoking the loneliness surrounding the characters. Surprising, as it was composed by Sylvester Levay, best known for his pounding, synthesizer-rich theme for TV's "Airwolf."
It's worth renting this movie on tape or DVD, because the version edited for television cuts several scenes that are very important to the plot. Without those scenes, some lines just don't make sense. Regrettably, there is no widescreen version even on DVD, although the standard 1.33:1 Academy Frame does help keep the story intimate. Occasionally, though, some characters will have their faces cut off the side of the screen. But even the DVD is a very imperfect version. The sound level wavers wildly, the only DVD I've ever had that does this. Sometimes it's barely audible while seconds later it's back at full volume. And the beginning of the movie is truncated, with the opening titles cutting in a few notes into the score. The print is also grainy, painfully so in a few of the darker scenes. All in all, a very careless transfer.
Note for Star Trek fans: this film contains a veritable cavalcade of Trek guest stars. At least four of the cast have appeared on various incarnations of Trek, including Madsen and Stiers on The Next Generation and Ian Wolfe and Jeff Corey on the original show.