The characters brought in for contrast are a mixed bag. Justin Kirk has an indelible scene in which he advises Arturo how to "break" Camilla. (He displays a recognizable male authority but I can imagine women getting queasy at his horseman's gestures.) The episodes involving Vera Rivken, however, contain a floridly literary psychology that is both dank and obscure (same as in the book), and Menzel's performance is, perhaps inevitably, too self-conscious.
At the same time, Vera brings out different sides of Arturo in his confrontations with unromantic reality. Farrell tops himself when Arturo is in Vera's Long Beach apartment and the disturbed woman begs him not to hurt her. Arturo, trying to reason with unreason, argues, "Why would I hurt you? Why would I bother? I don't even love you!" That revealing syllogism (Towne's invention), which Farrell makes unself-consciously articulate in a way perfect for the angry wannabe Arturo, encapsulates everything I remember about being young, insensitive, and desperate for experience. It's the most perfectly horrible movie line I've ever identified so closely with.