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By Tom Meek | July 6, 1998

Another Balzac novel makes it to the big screen — following “Cousin Bette” — making him the new Jane Austin of cinema. This bizarre tragedy explores the strange romantic interrelations between a Napoleonic officer stranded in the Egyptian desert and a female leopard — yes a leopard. Ben Daniels is striking as the blue eyed Frenchman and his feline costar has equal on screen magnetism, though things do delve into the silly when a he-cat comes a calling to their little oasis and Daniels flies into a jealous fit. The cinematography of the open vastness is gorgeous and the animal handling is impressive, but Balzac’s literal interpretation of “being p***y whipped” it a bit too much to swallow.

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