November 23, 1981 12:00 PM

Richard Burton has carried a film or two in his day, and he tries to tote this one along. Burton, 56, plays a Toronto artist whose muse and passion are revived by a liaison with Tatum O’Neal, 18, a schoolgirl who wants to be a writer. The premise is within reason, if barely. It’s harder to accept the obnoxious supporting characters—her parents and friends, his art world associates—and the actors who play them quite badly. Jules (Never on Sunday) Dassin’s direction and Thomas Hedley’s script are strained too. At one point O’Neal goes on a hunger strike when her parents won’t let her see Burton. “That old gentleman happens to mean more to me than anything else,” she wails. “The next time I eat, it will be with him.” While she’s a decent actress, O’Neal hardly seems attractive enough for the role, even though she records her first nude scene. Burton, meanwhile, gentlemanly underacts, yet his glances and monosyllables are so much more interesting than the rest of the movie they become a form of upstaging. (PG)

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