The Goddess Speaks

Tuesday, March 30, 1999

Crushed by a
Fiennes inspiration

By Nadine Kam


CAN I pick a winner or what? I saw "Saving Private Ryan" once, but I found Oscar's best film "Shakespeare in Love" worth viewing three times. I confess, however, that I didn't make the trips to the theater entirely because of the witty and eloquent screenplay. I went to ogle Joseph Fiennes.
After the third screening, a change of scenery was needed, so I went to see "Elizabeth," also starring Fiennes. "Elizabeth's" Cate Blanchett was my choice for best actress. After all, how tough could Gwyneth Paltrow's role have been? Let's see, she had to grin and glow in Fiennes' company and pine in his absence. Who needs to act?

Up until Oscar night, I had an excuse to keep up the Fiennes talk. "Whadja think of that 'Shakespeare' actor (birthday May 27; twin brother Jacob; girlfriend of seven years Sara)?" To an ex no longer in Hawaii I said, "Go see 'Shakespeare,' it'll help you."

One can't hide the obvious. A friend suggested: "You have a crush on Joseph Fiennes, don't you?"

This was irritating news. I thought I was too old for crushes, though I've met grandmoms who have crushes on Keanu Reeves. That's cute, but not for me. I've built up antibodies over just this sort of affliction and I'd hate to relapse.

YET, this "crush" went beyond seeing, say Brad Pitt or Mel Gibson or Antonio Banderas, and saying, "He's cute, so what?" In Fiennes' case, I pored through web sites, magazines and the London Times looking for any interviews. (He's shy so these are rare.)

What's a "crush" anyway, but something that is oppressive and cumbersome. Crushes are time wasters (you try downloading a movie trailer -- -- off the Internet) and a tad silly for someone with no delusions about men, who canseparate persons from personas.

On film, Fiennes seems to be the perfect man: dashing, intelligent, passionate, courtly and graceful, with a sense of humor, voice like honey and eyelashes the envy of mascara users.

He's better than any of the Frankenstein-monster assemblages my friends and I created in high school, combining the best traits of four or five boys.

It's nice to set standards, but rarely does the love of one's life arrive on horseback wearing a white eyelet shirt, bathed in soft light. I learned quickly to dispense with the list and weigh instead, the least of possible evils.

I have dissected this Fiennes attraction only to find it's not so much the man that's so fine, but his demeanor. When he looks at Blanchett or Paltrow in films, he looks like a man in love for the first time. His eyes sparkle. His smile is positively loopy. He looks 100 percent alive.

Such magic moments pass all too quickly from real relationships, and to watch the behavior of certain public figures lately, it's obvious some lives revolve around the thrill of new romance.Some would say such magic is not sustainable, thus dooming all longterm relationships to "companionate" status.

At home, I spy the love of my life in a tattered sweatshirt and a couple day's stubble, who, when cleaned up, is as gorgeous as Joseph. He's also just as intelligent, occasionally as courtly, though not as graceful, as Joseph. I hit the boyfriend with this question: "How come you never look at me the way Joseph Fiennes looks at Gwyneth Paltrow in that movie?"

His response: "You never look at me like that."

Ay, there's the rub.

Nadine Kam is Features Editor for the Star-Bulletin. Joseph Fiennes' next romantic comedy, "The Very Thought of You," is scheduled for May release.

The Goddess Speaks runs every Tuesday
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