A federal agent, Kate Parker arrives in a small rural town to extradite Claire Scott, a young woman suspected of murdering a government scientist. Kate is prevented from delivering her prisoner as the mysterious John Lawson, a rouge agent, now selling classified information on the black market, wants what Claire has – a deadly biological formula. Claire, unaware that she has it, proclaims her innocence, and together with Kate, must escape from Lawson and his two seasoned assassins Mr. and Mrs. Jones. Harry Eden, a CIA operative and Kate’s former lover, is dropped into the equation to help Kate but ultimately might lead to her demise as a deadly game of cat-and-mouse is played to its extreme.
“Laura Smiles” is an alarmingly effective portrait of a woman’s mental breakdown. We are introduced to “Laura” at her happiest time, in a warm, loving relationship with her fiancé (a very appealing Kip Pardue) in the city, literally the love of her life. In flashbacks, we then see the sweet development of this relationship out of order as these moments become brightly lit and colored memories that desperately intrude on her later in life, as she becomes consumed with guilt and remorse over his fate. These feelings start to overwhelm her current life as a wife and mother. As something inconsequential in what she calls her “suburban drudgery” triggers the past — in the supermarket, cooking, cleaning, at a school play– she acts out increasingly aberrantly to counteract the feelings they generate, especially when she can no longer distinguish past from present from dreams, recalling Blanche Du Bois.
The last movie from the team of Ismail Merchant, James Ivory, and Kazuo Ishiguro. Set in 1930s Shanghai, “The White Countess” is both Sofia (Natasha Richardson), a fallen member of the Russian aristocracy, and a nightclub created by a blind American diplomat named Jackson (Ralph Fiennes), who asks Sofia to be the centerpiece of the world he wants to create.