Movie review of Achilles' Love

Friday, May 12th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The title of "Achilles' Love" was changed at the last minute from "Achilles' Heel." Perhaps, given a movie with two left feet, the producers couldn't decide to which heel they were referring.

"Achilles' Love" is the story of a Greek-American insurance agent, Achilles "Ike" Mannis (Mather Zickel). Ike's a regular Pittsburgh guy with regular adventures - one of the more suspenseful sequences hinges on whether he'll be on time to make an overnight delivery of company papers. That's to New York, mind you.

Like his late dad, Ike provides insurance to a circle of charming, elderly Greek men. He goes the extra mile, even making payments for his clients when they can't come up with the cash. This sort of folksiness doesn't sit well with his bottom-line-obsessed new boss.

But Ike's most pressing problem is loneliness, until he falls for Lucy (Claudia Besso), the director of a troubled modern dance company. They meet cute: When she calls hitting him up for a donation, they discover that they live across the hall from each other.

Co-writer/co-producer/co-star John C. Mouganis - who plays Ike's romantic rival - and director Meredith Cole hope to endear their film to us with its minute scale and tiny ambition to be a "little family comedy." But it proves to be small in an irritating way, like a speck in the eye.

The tininess of "Achilles' Love" extends to its production values. It looks and plays exactly like an episode of the dippy '70s TV show "Love, American Style." Almost every shot is lighted bright and flat, which makes everyone look awful. The attempts at ethnic flavoring are freeze-dried. The acting ranges from adequate to abysmal, but the writing is consistently inane. Maybe that's the reason for the title change - unlike the Greek hero who has a vulnerable tendon named after him, this movie is weak all over.