Jun 9, 1999 at 12:00 am

Dear Mr. Hopkins,

No, don’t throw away this piece of paper; don’t dismiss me without hearing what I have to say. Extend me this courtesy. After all, because of this unspeakable act of rebellion, I could be writing my last review. But I’m ready to take my chances and speak without hiding behind the oh-so-eminently-safe third person, since – for once – I stand here, before you, not as a humble film lover, but as a passionate and tortured fan.

Remember me? I was the one who sat through two painful Brad Pitt movies merely to catch a glimpse of your presence on the screen. I was the one who watched you fight bears in The Edge, that testosterone feast which left me with a curious taste for oblivion. I was the shadow at your quiet side in 84 Charing Cross Road, the withered tree behind your cabin in The Dawning, the mold on the walls of your cell in The Silence of the Lambs. I’ve crossed oceans of time to find you, and I believe I’ve earned the right to speak.

Why Instinct? Why this Hannibal the Cannibal mutation? Why this feeble old Tarzan, this noble (white) savage determined to make his ambitious (black) psychiatrist face his demons – "Look deep into yourself, agent Starling!" Why this waste of talent on a less-than-extraordinary script?

To ask questions about fear and humanity? To point at the dangerous social game which fattens our bank accounts and spells advancement, but cripples us emotionally, a little more every day? To prove what? That animals are free and honest and we are not? That the daily miseries eating at our livers are going to be the death of us?

Like we don’t know? Like now, when virtual lovers have virtual orgasms whose frequency could induce a virtual relationship, going back to nature is the answer? So maybe you belong neither inside The Matrix nor in the gardens of eXistenZ, but there must be something better than a grim version of George of the Jungle for you, a role yet unscripted that would put your talent to good use.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying Instinct is a waste of time. The scenes with Cuba Gooding Jr. are admirably crafted. And people cry watching him struggle with your silence. But their tears are inconsequential, because there is no real dilemma behind this predictable exercise, and their sadness comes and goes, like the tide.

So here we are, on the shores of our brand-new fiction, with only three stars to keep us company: two for the film, and one for you to help you build a sand castle of your own.

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