Why is the career of Antonio Banderas so troubled? Because the man is unquestionably a movie star. Even in a movie like The Body
--in which he plays a priest sent by the Vatican to investigate whether or not a skeleton found in a tomb in Jerusalem is in fact the bones of Jesus Christ, a movie that reduces complex questions of faith and theology to plot points on a screenplay formula, a movie that manages to be simultaneously preposterous and mundane--even in a movie like this, Banderas is engaging. He's phenomenally good-looking; he's both intelligent and emotionally accessible; he's funny and passionate; why have only genre pictures (such as The Mask of Zorro
) so far managed to capture his charm and warmth? His five films with exuberant Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar (Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown
, Law of Desire
, Labyrinth of Passion
, and Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!
) showed Banderas to be a versatile actor, capable of tackling sophisticated parts with both comic and serious edges. But Hollywood doesn't seem to know what to do with him; it's dismaying to think that the numerous duds that litter his filmography are actually the best choices he's been offered. The Body
is far from his worst film--the cinematography is superb, and though the script is trying to tackle religious and political issues far beyond its grasp, the dialogue is reasonably well written and the characters have some dimension to them--but why is an actor as sexy as Banderas being cast as a priest? Please, someone, give this man the roles he deserves! --Bret Fetzer