Passion in the Desert (1998)

Directed by Lavinia Currier
Written by Lavinia Currier & Martin Edmunds, based on the novella by Honoré de Balzac
Starring Ben Daniels, Michael Piccoli, Paul Meston, Kenneth Collard, Nadi Odeh

My Advice: Wait for Cable.

A man goes to the desert, winds up lost, meets a leopard and is very, very lonely...  No, but seriously folks, that pretty much sums up this film, which is ostensibly about a French soldier who gets lost in the Egyptian desert and is saved by a leopard who lets him shack up with her despite the fact they're not married. 

The moral of the story, that man cannot tame the wild nor can he competely leave his civilized self behind, is as plain as the spots on the big cat's back.  That's a good moral, and I agree with it for the most part.  I disagree with the execution, however.  We begin with our soldier boy, Robert (Daniels), in the present and in bad shape.  We then flash back for the remainder of the story.  The idea that our boy has screwed the pooch (or...nevermind) from the get go, makes the rest of the movie somewhat pointless, since we already know how it must end up.  When Robert sheds his clothes and begins to paint himself like his feline love, I was singing in my head "Everybody Wants to Be a Cat," which only revealed to me how UNseriously I was taking the whole thing. 

Daniels especially gets credit for acting very closely with the three leopards used in making this film, and they are beautiful animals.  However, their beauty can't carry the film by itself and that's what ends up happening.  And not much else.  Which is disappointing, since I love cats--but, um, not like Robert.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.  Never mind.  Go away.

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