Bottom Line: Seeking this film is recommended, but not so desperately.
Directed by: Susan Seidelman
Starring: Aidan Quinn, Anna Levine, Laurie Metcalf, Madonna, Mark Blum, Peter Maloney, Robert Joy, Rosanna Arquette, Steven Wright, Will Patton
As is perhaps suggested in the title, the film does not center mainly on “Susan”. Roberta (Rosanna Arquette) is a bored housewife, fascinated with reading personal ads about Susan (Madonna), a woman living a life she could only dream of, and her boyfriend Tim. While traveling along the city, Roberta is struck unconscious, and when she wakes up, she is mistaken for Susan and in her state of amnesia, she goes with the idea of being her idol–until her husband goes looking for her, and the real Susan goes looking for her own belongings, which Roberta has acquired in order to pass for Susan.
DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN is an oddball dramedy. The film relies mostly on a singular, loose joke: a bored woman gets to live the life of her dreams, as the other woman tries to get back that life. Susan is a weird character, anyhow. It’s pretty rare for such an important character in a film’s story to not bear a resemblance to anyone I’ve ever met. Yet Madonna portrays her unpredictable personality to perfection. It’s rare that she gives a decent onscreen delivery, save for EVITA, but she actually makes portraying her character seem easy here.
If anything, Madonna is one of few standouts in DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN. Whereas it’s easy to admit that the film has occasional success as far as wit, it’s too easygoing to be a classic. Rosanna Arquette delivers a solid performance, despite her character being hassled frivolously by the script. The script itself takes the intriguing storyline at a great beginning and from there, tends to wander off down into a shallow, contrived conclusion. DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN is worth “seeking” for one humorously entertaining viewing. After that, it would likely become merely a monotonous Madonna showcase.