Fading opera star Maria Callas struggles to retain any sense of dignity, as she is reduced to lip-synching to recordings of her former glory.
Franco Zeffirelli turns a long-cherished ambition into a faux reality in this fantasy, inspired by his relationship with the peerless operatic icon Maria Callas. But whereas he failed to persuade the diva to revive her dormant career by lip-synching film versions of her stage triumphs, Jeremy Irons' pony-tailed impresario has no such problems with Fanny Ardant's Callas - that is, until the deception is in the can and the artist's pride in her legacy kicks in.
This is a precious mess of a picture, with Irons' dealings with gay artist Jay Rodan and old-school journalist Joan Plowright proving unnecessary distractions from Ardant's struggle with her sense of self-worth after the loss of her voice. But the sequences from Bizet's Carmen have stylish passion and leave you wondering what might have been.
Flashes of greatness are evident, reminding us of Zeffirelli's talent, but the director's personal attachement gives him tunnel vision, leaving the overall film patchy at best.