A sketchy thriller by sports journalist/novelist Deford (Love and Infamy, 1993, etc.) in which a psychiatrist starts to believe that one of her patients is in love with a woman he knew in a previous life.
After a short introduction set in early 17th-century Antwerp, where the painter Rubens broods over the murder of a prostitute who modeled for his nudes, the action moves on to modern-day New York, where psychiatrist Nina Winston is trying to crack the smirking shell of a middle-aged businessman client by the name of Floyd “Bucky” Buckingham. When Bucky finally lets down his façade, he tells Nina that although he’s married, with kids, he is ferociously in love with another woman—a beautiful Madonna figure he honestly believes was his lover in an earlier time. To prove it, he takes her on a field trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see Rubens’s Venus and Adonis, which Bucky believes depicts him and his love, Constance Rawlings, now a married Chicago stock analyst. Under hypnosis, the two both appear to confirm this story, speaking in old languages and taking on bizarre but historically accurate characteristics as a centuries-old murder mystery unfolds. Nina proves all too willing to believe their story of love across time and lets herself get drawn into the drama, even as she’s trying to mend fences with Hugh Venable, a former lover who also happens to be a Lutheran minister. The story has many failings, but its major one is Nina’s inability to explain her level of interest in this case; the fuzzy feeling she occasionally gets hardly serves as convincing motivation. For a psychiatrist, she’s painfully unscientific, just as Bucky is impossibly immature and stupid for a successful businessman, and Hugh seems carelessly amoral for a minister.
The usually witty and insightful Deford falls short with this unsavory and lackadaisical outing peopled by hollow characters relating a far-out story.