White Palace (1990) / Drama
MPAA Rated: R for nudity, sex and language
Running Time: 103 min.
Cast: Susan Sarandon, James Spader, Jason Alexander, Kathy Bates, Eileen Brennan
Director: Luis Mandoki
Screenplay: Ted Tally, Alvin Sargent
Review published May 8, 2003
WHITE PALACE is bolstered by a novel idea for a romance, gaining much of its freshness from material that isn't often explored in most love stories made in Hollywood, or anywhere else for that matter. Although it contains many of the same trappings and clichés that many other movies about relationships do, it's the fact that the two lovers involved happen to be not only different in terms of age, but also intelligence and social status as well, that makes WHITE PALACE almost unique among romances. Having such a romance may seem unlikely even in the real world, but as played out in the film brilliantly by the two leads, there is an element of love knowing no bounds that ultimately rings of truth.
The main plot follows James Spader, who plays a 27-year-old yuppie that one day ends up in a fast food joint called White Palace. It's there that he meets, flirts with, and has a one night stand with a 43-year-old waitress (Sarandon). Not long after, the two have a torrid romance, but problems arise due to the age and class differences, causing him to feel too self-conscious about introducing her to his friends and family, and she isn't one to be treated as a lesser.
Glenn Savan's 1987 novel provides the basis for the story, which is a refreshing adaptation into a film considering Hollywood's dearth of younger man/older woman romances. WHITE PALACE employs some obvious contrivances in order to work, but is saved from being phony by the convincing actors, with Sarandon in particular providing a wonderful performance as the older woman. The steamy love scenes are very well-made, without seeming gratuitous, because they show how passionate the two are whenever they are alone together.
WHITE PALACE gets a solid recommendation not only as a different kind of romance, but also for being enjoyable entertainment regardless of the theme.
©2003 Vince Leo