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Film review: High Season

Published: Saturday, Aug. 20 1988 12:00 a.m. MDT

"High Season" is a British comedy about sex and politics - not necessarily in that order - that plays out in a very low-key manner. Perhaps a bit too low-key.

Wry wit and irony are fine, but the humor here is sporadic and soft. And the characters, while nicely eccentric, are not endearing enough to keep the audience involved for nearly two hours.

The setting is the Greek Island of Rhodes, as in Colossus of . . . . The time is the present, but some of the characters are living in the past. And the past is catching up with them.

Jacqueline Bisset, who has lately been doing more television than theatrical movies, stars as a professional photographer who is having trouble making ends meet and may have to give up her home on the island.

She is estranged from her philandering artist-husband James Fox, who sleeps with young women who come to the island as if he's the main tourist attraction.

Bisset's best friend is a famed British art critic (Sebastian Shaw), who, we gradually learn, also happens to be a spy. Similarly, there is a British tourist couple (Kenneth Branagh, Lesley Manville) _ so loud and obnoxious you'd think they were Americans _ and the husband is not who we think.

Then there is young Paris Tselios, who is refurbishing his late father's shop to make it a tourist trap, much to the chagrin of his mother (Irene Papas). She continually reminds him that his father was a great war hero _ but we know, and she knows, that it's not true. Fox is sculpting "The Unknown Tourist" for the town square; Bisset is trying to sell an antique pot that may or may not be genuine so she can save her house; Branagh is falling for Bisset while his wife is wooed by Tselios; and Papas is hording fingernail polish.

All of these people cross paths during a few days in the summer, and while there are some amusing moments in their encounters, "High Season" never reaches a pitch of hilarity or interest.

And at a time when there are so many more interesting movies in town, that's probably a death knell for this picture.

"High Season" is rated R for sex, nudity, profanity and some violence.