By Alan Scherstuhl
By Stephanie Zacharek
By Carolina Del Busto
By Amy Nicholson
By Simon Abrams
By Kevin Dilmore
By New Times
By Amy Nicholson
The film draws most of its conflict from the interracial romance between Phillippe (Marco Hofschneider) and April (Robin Givens), a beautiful black maid in the house of one of Phillippe's professors. Phillippe and April take one look at each other and start spouting portentous dialogue that indicates their instant, mystical bond. Not a clichā is missed in their subsequent conversations. After they make love the first time, April, having doubts about their future, says--you guessed it--We're from different worlds." No, no, Phillippe protests, the wind blows in both our faces, and the rain makes us both wet. They both talk like Harlequin Romance rejects.
The real fun in Foreign Student, however, comes from the subplots. Phillippe not only has a secondary relationship with a Southern belle (Charlotte Ross) who goes through a hilariously unmotivated breakdown, he also is befriended by a BMOC (the likable Richard Johnson) and ends up as the kicker on the football team. At the climax, director Eva Sereny and screenwriter Menno Meyjes actually try to give the picture some gridiron thrills, but even Harold Lloyd never made a football sequence this funny.
Except for the teeny Hofschneider, who starred in Europa, Europa, most of the film's cast members seem to be soap-opera alumni (it is the soap audience, maybe, at which the film is being aimed), and, true to this training ground, they do what they can to maintain their dignity while they say their ludicrous lines. Even Givens, though she's so lovely it hurts to look at her, can't keep us from giggling at times, like when she and Phillippe are standing by the road, and a car zooms past, from which we hear a whisper of harmonica. Asked who it was, she looks dreamy and soulful and says, "That's the blues comin' by." It turns out she means that it's blues greats Howlin' Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson (played, respectively, by Charles S. Dutton and Hinton Battle), who have come to town to play the local juke. The musicians later befriend young Phillippe, introduce him to their music, and get him drunk. Dutton and Battle do amusing turns in the roles, and Dutton growls a cover of Wolf's "Evil" that accounts for the best few minutes of Foreign Student's length.
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