In David Hare’s Strapless, Blair Brown plays a lonely physician living in England who has spent her entire life Denying Her Deepest Impulses. When she meets a kind and worldly Continental gentleman (Bruno Ganz) who seems intent on marrying her, she allows herself to be swept up into romantic passion — not realizing, in her schoolgirl naivete, that there are some things Prince Charming isn’t telling her.
Brown is an appealing actress, but Hare, the British playwright (Plenty), directs in such a stiff, premeditated way that he squeezes the juice right out of her. The movie is full of schematic symbolism and twitty, overexplicit exchanges, such as, She: ”Is thinking of things always better than doing them?” He: ”Hardly. In your case, no.” Strapless does feature a lively turn by Bridget Fonda as Brown’s free-spirited sister, but most of it plays like a Pretty Woman for Mensa alumni — it’s pitched too high for human ears.