January 20, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 60  

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“Naked Virgin” cute:
better on small screen

Chasing Liberty
Starring: Mandy Moore, Matthew Goode, Jeremy Piven and Annabella Sciorra.
Directed by: Andy Cadiff

By Dallas Curow
Gazette Staff

Gazette file photo
MANDY: “LOOK AT THE STARS, AREN’T THEY PRETTY?” MATTHEW: “HUH? STARS?” Mandy Moore and Matthew Goode star in Chasing Liberty.

In Chasing Liberty, bubble gum pop princess turned budding actress, Mandy Moore tries her hand at rebellion.

As the restless daughter of the American president, Anna Foster (Moore) attempts to escape the watchful eyes of the paparazzi, her parents and the Secret Service, while on a presidential visit to Europe. She escapes on the back of a motorcycle belonging to Ben (Goode), who doesn’t know Anna is a Secret Service agent.

Moore portrays Anna as a well-bred yet free spirit who desperately needs a break from the public eye. She was wise in deciding to put singing on the back burner and focus on her acting career. While her singing voice is generally weak and breathy, her on-screen presence is far more confident.

Moore has matured since A Walk to Remember, where her presentation was watered down by a restrained and über-innocent persona. She seems to have become more comfortable with herself and her sexuality, as her character unabashedly strips down several times in Liberty.

In spite of this, Moore has little chemistry with love interest Ben. This could be because as actors, the age gap is large enough to drive a pickup truck through.

Moore attempts to seduce Goode, is subsequently rejected and then sobbingly describes herself as a “naked virgin,” thus summing up their relationship. Although Goode is undoubtedly attracted to Moore, it’s clear that even he knows she is too young for him. The director overcompensated for the lack of chemistry by cueing annoyingly dramatic violins or opera crescendos every time the pair kisses.

The sub plot about two Secret Service agents is a redeeming factor in the film. Actors Piven and Sciorra fare excellently in their portrayal of bantering partners who discover their attraction for each other while trailing Anna.

The film also serves as a virtual vacation for audiences, as the plot winds through stunning European vistas, from Prague to Venice to Germany. The scenic eye candy alone is worth seeing. The Roman Holiday-esque quality of the film is entertaining, but Moore’s still-budding acting abilities obviously cannot compare to Audrey Hepburn. Although Chasing Liberty is no Oscar winner, it is cute — but wait for the video.

Between the Olsen Twins and Hilary Duff, Mandy Moore is hands down our favourite multi-media princess — her girl-next-door charm and super-sweetness just comes across as refreshingly genuine. Here’s a list of the some of the areas conquered by Moore:

Actress: Not to be relegated to romantic comedies, Moore will next have a role in the dark high school comedy Saved as the best friend of a pregnant teen played by Donnie Darko’s Jena Malone.

Talk-show host: Short-lived, but in 2000, The Mandy Moore Show aired on MTV, showing a poised Moore in front of the cameras.

Neutrogena girl: Though no longer the face of Neutrogena beauty products, Moore was featured in their print and ad campaigns at the start of the millennium. Oh Mandy, what great skin and hair you have!

Cover model: Teen People? Done. Cosmo? Check. Nylon? Wonderful. Playboy? In your dreams.

Singer: From light-weight teen-pop to covers like XTC’s “Senses Working Overtime” on her latest Coverage disc, Moore is moving into more mature territory. Sniff, she’s all grown up now.



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