A college girl from Wisconsin whose professor has romantic designs on, Elizabeth Carlson packs up and moves to New York City, finding a job as a waitress while she attempts to launch a career as a fashion model. As her career takes off, she meets Daniel Jelline, a violinist, who aggressively stalks Elizabeth until they begin an affair. When work takes her to Paris, however, Elizabeth encounters a terrorist named Rivas and her life is placed in considerable danger.
Exposed is an English-language 1983 film directed and written by James Toback. Nastassja Kinski, Rudolf Nureyev and Harvey Keitel star; director of photography, Henri Decae; film editor, Robert Lawrence; music by Georges Delerue.
Review for Exposed
THE title of James Toback’s ”Exposed” suggests sensationalism, a quality the film simultaneously attempts and disdains. International terrorism, fashion modeling and the attention-getting casting of Rudolf Nureyev and Nastassia Kinski are the film’s most noticeable ingredients, yet it affects such insouciance that these elements are never fully exploited.
”Exposed” is certainly the best film Mr. Toback has yet directed, with ”Fingers” and ”Love and Money” the others. But while ”Exposed” is more polished, it has less urgency than its predecessors, affecting a paralyzing superiority to the cinematic commonplaces that might have served as its anchor.
The central figure in ”Exposed,” which opens today at Cinema I, is Miss Kinski’s Elizabeth Carlson, a nice girl from a Midwestern farm. She is first seen at college, being lectured to by Mr. Toback as a hot-tempered English professor who addresses his class on Leslie Fiedler and Goethe’s ”The Sorrows of Young Werther.” He also turns out to be having an affair with his prettiest pupil, who tells him she is tired of him, at which point he slugs her.
Soon Elizabeth is off to New York, where she becomes, in rapid succession, a waitress, a world-famous model and an inadvertent participant in a scheme of international intrigue. She is also sought after by Daniel Jelline (Mr. Nureyev), a celebrated violinist who wins Elizabeth’s heart by breaking into her apartment, and wins the rest of her by running his violin bow across her torso. This moment, like so many in ”Exposed,” seems less intent on directly achieving what it’s after than on sounding a note of gratuitous novelty and daring.
There’s very little going on between Mr. Nureyev and Miss Kinski here, violin bow notwithstanding. Mr. Nureyev seems stilted as the suitor with unusual tactics (in addition to housebreaking, he courts Elizabeth by following her down the street, reciting a poem and then darting away).
And his uneasiness is accentuated by the utterly immediate, natural presence of Miss Kinski, who displays a much greater range here, and a much more appealing quirkiness, than she has before. Miss Kinski’s Elizabeth is so animated and willful, in fact, that the film’s treating her as a pawn doesn’t fit. ”Woman, who was the angel of redemption, becomes the angel of death,” Mr. Toback reads from Mr. Fiedler, in his professorial cameo. Yet Miss Kinski seems more active and vital here than do any of the men whose fate she influences.
From its first panoramic shot of Paris, which is where Elizabeth will eventually be drawn, ”Exposed” has been handsomely photographed by Henri Decae and interestingly if eccentrically cast. (Bibi Andersson plays a simple farmer’s wife, Harvey Keitel a kingpin of the international underground, and there are a number of curious cameos.) All of the characters say more, and do less, than they need to, until the film finally arrives at a note of would-be tragedy that’s only deflating. The film’s ambitions get in the way of its action all the way through.
One sort of action that does erupt here periodically, though, is the unexpected brawl. The film is full of them, from a fight between extras at a record store, to an unusually clumsy street mugging (Miss Kinski is practically talked to death by the robber’s accomplice), to a surprise later appearance by Mr. Toback as the professor still dogging his sweetheart’s steps. Far from fostering the impression that the world is a violent place, these outbursts merely make it seem a more contrived and histrionic one.
Directed by: James Toback
Starring: Nastassja Kinski, Rudolf Nureyev, Harvey Keitel, Ian McShane, Bibi Andersson, Ron Randell, Pierre Clémenti, Marion Varella
Screenplay by: James Toback
Production Design by: Brian Eatwell
Cinematography by: Henri Decaë
Film Editing by: Robert Lawrence
Costume Design by: Kristi Zea
Music by: Georges Delerue
Distributed by: Metro Goldwyn Mayer, United Artists
Release Date: April 22, 1983