Lovely And Amazing

Lovely And Amazing


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Whether it is the victory of feminism, or the pressures of modern life, a change has come about in the dating game. "He doesn't have the patience for my insecurities," spoken by a beautiful girl in a stressful situation, goes unnoticed because it's so been-there for thirtysomethings. Self-worth is the new holy grail and therapy the preferred drug of choice.

To be fair, Nicole Holofcener's gently amusing Lovely And Amazing is not attempting a Woody Allen pastiche from a woman's perspective. It tells of the Marks family in Los Angeles and why their dreams and aspirations fall short of those high school expectations.

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Michelle (Catherine Keener) was a pageant queen, who became an artist, and now offers her miniature chairs, made from tree bits, to gift shops, without success. She is married to Bill (Clark Gregg) and can't remember the last time they had sex.

Younger sister Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer) is an actress who picks up stray dogs and lives with Paul (James Le Gros), a naturalist writer, whose cynicism has evolved into a bored acceptance of life's banalities.

Jane (Brenda Blethyn) is their mother, who looks after eight-year-old Annie (Raven Goodwin), who is adopted, overweight and black.

Essentially, the film is an ensemble piece, emphasising the extent to which control is random and self-doubt contagious. Only Annie has the ability to see things as they are.

Jane goes into hospital for a snip-and-tuck job. Elizabeth is up for an audition ("It's a chemistry read") with a heartthrob movie star (Dermot Mulroney) in a popular TV soap. Michelle finds work in an express service photographic shop, where her teenage boss (Jake Gyllenhaal) develops a crush on her. Annie takes advantage of this dysfunctional situation with guiltless efficiency.

The performances are an absolute joy. Blethyn brings an English sense of humour to an American role. Mortimer is too intelligent to be an airhead goofball and demonstrates a natural aptitude for comedy. Keener continues to explore the crevices of inadequacy in the Californian psyche, while Goodwin steals the show.

Holofcener's script is sympathetic, cutting, achingly truthful and funny.

"I hate my whole life," one of them whines.

You can't hate the movie.

Reviewed on: 31 Jul 2002
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Family traumas for an artist, an actress, an adopted black girl and mum (Brenda Blethyn) in LA.
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Director: Nicole Holofcener

Writer: Nicole Holofcener

Starring: Catherine Keener, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Mortimer, Raven Goodman, Aunjanue Ellis, Clark Gregg, Jake Gyllenhaal, James Le Gros, Dermot Mulroney

Year: 2001

Runtime: 89 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: US


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