CALLAS FOREVER (Franco Zeffirelli, France/Italy/Romania/Spain). 108 minutes. May 27, 7:45 pm. Isabel Bader. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Franco Zeffirelli's film fantasy set during the final year of Maria Callas's ( Fanny Ardant ) life isn't as bad as I'd feared, considering it was shot in 2002 and hasn't been released here.
Jeremy Irons plays a pony-tailed gay record producer who dreams up a plan to get the diva - her voice now shot - out of seclusion. Why not make a film of Carmen - a role she recorded but never performed - by having Callas lip-synch to her earlier self?
The director's admiration for the singer comes through, especially in Ardant's look (damn, those Chanel outfits look great) and icy hauteur. While her speaking voice lacks power, she matches the singer's onstage passion. Unfortunately, Zeffirelli loses interest in Irons - who's relegated to a silly subplot with an artist boy toy - and Joan Plowright , though they both provide some examples of classic subtle Brit scene-stealing.
Inside out festival reviews The new queer crop INSIDE OUT TORONTO LESBIAN AND GAY FILM AND VIDEO FESTIVAL at various locations from today (Thursday, May 19) to May 29. $7.50-$10.75, galas $21.50-$26.75. 416-967-1528, www.insideout.ca. For complete schedule, see Indie & Rep Film, page 126.