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"Catwoman"

HALLE BERRY an Oscar winning actress? You'll find that hard to believe if you see Warner Bros' ``Catwoman!" You just might want to ask her to return the award! She plays Patience Phillips, a meek doormat of a woman who gets walked over all the time. She is a klutz too. Yeah, almost gets herself killed while trying to rescue a cat on the ledge. That is what the cop (Benjamin Bratt) who sees her hanging by the window thinks. Obviously the cat, an Egyptian Mojo, is on a mission. Only we don't know that yet. All we know is that the cop would like to get to know her better. Obviously the stage is being set for better things to emerge huh? All too familiar!

Getting on with the story. Patience, a graphics designer in a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire, just can't seem to please the nasty bosses — Lambert Wilson and Sharon Stone who plays Lauren an aging diva. While husband and wife play their cat and mouse games with each other, Patience inadvertently overhears a dangerous conversation. About how the launch of a magic cream that reverses the process of aging cannot hit the market as the side effects can be horrible.

But does the empire, chiefly Lauren, want to lose so much money and reputation? Kill her, is the verdict. And the honchos do go behind a hapless Patience and she is killed.

But you know what? She is resurrected. Remember the cat on the ledge? That was no ordinary cat and while she lies on a surreal set supposedly outside the city limits, she is approached by a gaggle of cats led by the one, which is a feline goddess, and resurrects her as the Catwoman.

Patience is no longer the meek, docile person. She is angry, mad and willing to do anything to track down the killers. Which she does in an extremely silly looking leather suit that shows more than it covers. Meanwhile she continues her romance with the cop who must be the dumbest guy in the whole world.

To be fair to Halle Berry, she tries her best to put emotions into a venture that does not really promote any. And director Pitof (never heard of him) is so enamoured of her cleavage that any seriousness the story might have had gets distracted by that. The background score on its own is a wonderful mix of hip-hop and other styles, but mostly distracts not blends.

But something about the way the film begins gives it the mystic feel in various shots of paintings and ancient sayings about the mysteries of cats and the long history of transforming women into independent powerful creatures who don't play by the rules of society. All this certainly tries to put the Catwoman mythology into a social context but remains in the end a film version of a comic book. with the duality theme of curse/blessing of extraordinary powers bring about for comic book heroes.

CHITRA MAHESH

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