Archive for July 26, 1991

V.I. Warshawski

July 26, 1991

As inelegant as its title. As Victoria Iphigenia Warshawski, the Chicago detective from Sara Paretsky’s popular mystery series, Kathleen Turner wears gorgeous dresses that are forever getting messed up; didn’t it occur to anyone on this film that a woman in V.I.’s line of work might opt for clothing less inhibitive of movement — sweats, perhaps? (The V.I. of the books isn’t a fashion plate.) In the script, a shoddy synthesis of some of the books, a snotty little girl (Angela Goethals) hires V.I. to find out who killed her father. Thus a potentially great movie heroine becomes maternal and protective, and Turner can’t get her bearings in the role; the very qualities that make her a serviceable V.I. — gutsiness, brassiness — render her entirely unconvincing as a mom figure. Turner does put a spin on the rote castration jokes, and she’s fun when she’s decking people. The film reaches climax during the opening credits, when director Jeff Kanew pans over Turner’s drop-dead legs. This was to be the first in a series of V.I. detective comedies, but it tanked — badly. Which is probably why you haven’t seen any major motion pictures based on Sue Grafton or Patricia Cornwell. A similar attempt 21 years later, One for the Money, based on Janet Evanovich’s popular series, didn’t fly either. I pictured Turner watching the trailer for that and snorting, “Bitch, if I couldn’t do it…”