Splendor (1999 film)

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Splendor 1999 Spanish film poster.jpg
Spanish theatrical release poster
Directed byGregg Araki
Produced byGregg Araki
Graham Broadbent
Damian Jones
Written byGregg Araki
StarringKathleen Robertson
Johnathon Schaech
Matt Keeslar
Kelly Macdonald
Eric Mabius
Music byDaniel Licht
CinematographyJim Fealy
Edited byGregg Araki
Tatiana S. Riegel
Distributed byThe Samuel Goldwyn Company
Release date
  • January 29, 1999 (1999-01-29) (Sundance)
  • September 9, 1999 (1999-09-09) (TIFF)
  • September 17, 1999 (1999-09-17) (New York)
  • October 1, 1999 (1999-10-01) (Los Angeles)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
United States
Box office$284.000[1]

Splendor is a 1999 British-American romantic comedy film directed by Gregg Araki and starring Kathleen Robertson, Johnathon Schaech, and Matt Keeslar. The film deals with an open relationship between the three leads.[2]


When struggling Los Angeles actor Veronica finds herself simultaneously falling in love with a sensitive writer named Abel and an air-headed drummer named Zed, she initially tries to see them both without the other finding out, and then to choose between them. When she is unable to do so, she begins openly dating them both, and the three eventually move in together, forming a unique yet functional group relationship. Veronica's friend Mike is critical of their relationship, though she warms to the concept over time. Abel and Zed are initially antagonistic to one another but grow closer over time, eventually becoming closer to one another than either of them are to Veronica. When Veronica becomes pregnant, the relationship becomes strained and she eventually leaves both Abel and Zed for charming director Ernest, whom she agrees to marry despite not loving. At the film's climax, Abel and Zed race across the city at Mike's urging to stop the wedding and win her back.



Speaking to Filmmaker Magazine, Araki referred to the film as being "very much about trying to live by your own rules...about achieving conventional happiness in an unconventional way." In terms of genre, he said "I wanted a sort of Cary Grant stylization. As in screwball comedy, the emotions are real, but there is also a kind of sheen to the performance."[3]


Splendor received mixed reviews from critics, and holds a ranking of 52/100 on review aggregator Metacritic,[4] and is rated as '58% Fresh' by Rotten Tomatoes.[5] The Chicago Reader described it as being "marvelously neutral toward a type of sexual and domestic relationship that's often exploited or overblown",[6] and The Austin Chronicle stated that "there's a genuine, sparky chemistry between the three...and Robertson, particularly, is luminous in her role."[7] The Daily News was less positive, saying that the film "seems more like a vapid sitcom made on a low budget" and summarising it as "meaningless, if perverted, fun."[8] Variety stated that, "though less violent and macabre than all of (Araki's) previous movies, Splendor is not exactly fresh, nor a radical point of departure...a seductively sensual picture that entices while it lasts but evaporates like an air bubble as soon as it is over."[9]

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