In The Muse, Albert Brooks throws some sharp barbs in the direction of Hollywood. Some of this clearly reflects Brookss own travails Being a scriptwriter is kind of like being a eunuch at an orgy. At least at an orgy you get to watch I dont even get invited to the set, he says early in the piece. There is a wonderful spot-on portrait of an asshole studio executive Brooks claims the line about having to give up his office because Brian De Palma needs it occurred to him in real life. (Notedly, Brooks had to find independent financing outside of the studios to get The Muse off the ground). Like Robert Altman in The Player, Brooks gets great mileage out of casting real-life Hollywood personalities as themselves. James Cameron has an immensely amusing cameo appearance, walking away muttering Dont go near the water ... Dont go near the water while Sharon Stones muse mimes disappointment that the gift Cameron brings her isnt the necklace from Titanic (1997) Its not the ..... is it? There is an equally amusing cameo from a hyper-caffeinated Martin Scorsese, contemplating a remake of Raging Bull (1980) with a thin man and a funny gag about Albert Brooks going to see Steven Spielberg and meeting his cousin.
The Muse also feels one of the less inspired of Albert Brookss efforts. (Brookss greatest moment was undeniably Lost in America). Brooks seems to lack an ability to compound the comic situations and push the gags toward the hysterical. The Hollywood satire is forgotten about a third of the way through. Both the running plots about Brooks being run around by Sharon Stones whims and his jealousy over wife Andie McDowells becoming a successful baker under musely tutelage have an irksome looseness that comes from Brooks not pushing them far enough. Towards the very end, Brooks throws in a couple of psychologists to suggest the possibility that Sharon Stone may not be a muse at all but a deluded lunatic and leaves the film on a note of ambiguity as to what she really is. Unfortunately, this well-tried game of ambiguity concerning the fantastic is something that needed to be played far sooner in the piece than this.
While not unamusing, The Muse is never hysterical. I have yet to be enamoured of Sharon Stones abilities as an actress whenever she plays introverted and closed-off she is awful although you cannot slight her for trying hard to be something more than the sexpot roles she was cast in after she came to attention with Basic Instinct (1992). Here she succeeds somewhat, playing with a certain dizzy, airy charm that undeniably ends up carrying the film.
(Nominee for Best Actress (Sharon Stone) at this sites Best of 1999 Awards).