Lawrence O'Toole
August 12, 1994 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The House of the Spirits, Isabel Allende’s South American saga of passion and power-mongering, is as flat as the pampas themselves under Danish Bille August’s direction. The movie, featuring completely miscast actors (Meryl Streep as a clairvoyant, Jeremy Irons as a full-blooded patriarch, Glenn Close as a dour old maid), is like an endless trailer. No scene ever lasts long enough, or connects to another, to create a narrative force. And the movie, which misses the book’s magic realism, is incredulously, laughably non-Latin. D

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