New Movies: The Doily and the Dumpling

Whimsy is asthenic fantasy, a fragile, elusive quality difficult to render but easy to shatter into sentimentality. It is a commodity perhaps best left to books and greeting cards. Enlarged and expanded to fill a screen, it can become an overbearing thing, as two new movies pointedly prove.

The Madwoman of Chaillot is a severely earthbound version of Jean Giraudoux's airborne allegory of individual virtue and corporate evil in postwar France. It has been slicked up with sumptuous production and a heavyweight cast. Yet for all its weight, it has no more strength...

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