2002
Rated: R nudity, graphic language, and sexual themes
Genre: Drama/Comedy
Directed By: Nicole Holofcener
Running Time: 1:31
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date:
DVD Features:
Audio Commentary - 1. Nicole Holofcener - Director
Trailer
Cast & Crew Interviews
Scene Selection
Text/Photo Galleries:
Storyboards
If you like this, try: Alice doesn't live here anymore, Steele Magnolias
LOVELY & AMAZING

 

In one of the most enjoyable and deep movies in years, we delve into a great movie which tells the tale intense tale of four women facing life and its many challenges. We met Michelle (Katherine Keener  S1m0ne, Death to Smoochy), the main character who is a woman in the crossroads of her life as she faces a dead-end marriage. She is an aging woman who is a struggling artist; her husband who shows basically no interest in her sexually; they fight constantly and she seeks solace in a lonely teen outcast played by Jake Gylenhaal (Bubble Boy, Donnie Darko) who works at a photo shop she takes a job in, In a stand-out role, Emily Mortimer (Scream 3, Bright Young Things) plays Michelle's younger sister who is a struggling actress holding on to small fame from bit parts and roles as she so desperately seeks comfort from her boyfriend who takes no interest in her work. She struggles with her life as she battles her own self-esteem and self-confidence, Brenda Blethyn  (Anne Frank, A river runs through it) plays the mother Jane who is facing her age and loneliness as she gets liposuction to increase her attraction to men. Newcomer Raven Goodwin plays the Annie, the African-American adopted daughter of Jane who watches everything happen around her. She is constantly ostracized by Michelle who refuses to accept her into the family while she struggles to figure where she belongs in life and whether or not she should accept her culture or act as one her family.
    As always, I get my movie scoops from watching "Ebert & Roeper at the movies" on television; when I heard how acclaimed this came to be by movie critics and how much rave it got, I was more than interested to check it out. I was pleasantly surprised as it exceeded all my expectations. We get a truly incredible heart-wrenching story about these women who face what, I guess, average woman face everyday. The whole movie's entire undertone is self-image and how important and/or petty it can be to a woman, and how it so adamantly affects these women's lives. I thought each of the characters were so well played and so deep; especially Emily Mortimer whose sub-plot was probably the best. She's a beautiful woman whose entire self-image and state of mind is torn down by her career as an actress. She feel ugly in a world of shallow being and turmoil. She seeks re-assurance by many people that fail to give to her and in the end pays for it. Katherine Keener's character is very unlikable though very interesting as she faces her age and dead-end life. Her husband is often cold to her and cheats on her constantly; she is aware of it yet shrugs it off in a sad attempt to hold onto something that once was. I thought newcomer Raven Goodwin is excellent in this as she seeks acceptance throughout the movie and struggles with her conflicting cultures. I thought the entire movie was a good message of how self-image can make a woman feel inferior and deprecating in a shallow heartless world. Towards the end of the movie all these women's lives tend to come crashing down as they realize there's no true answer to their woes in life, but to face them head on and roll with the punches.

Though, the movie is watchable, at times it's very hard to watch this. The movie's characters are all awful people to look at; especially Katherine Keener's character who is such a sour self-loathing individual, it's painful to even bear with her. The only truly interesting character's subplot is that of Emily Mortimer who really is the only true likeable character in the movie. The movie tends to lag on with the situations and paper-thin sentiment.

It's a good movie with an excellent story that seems to focus on women's self-image and their tenacity to cope with their own bodies and where they belong in the world.