Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her

Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Balancing an ensemble cast as glittery as this takes conviction. Working from his own script, directing his first full-length feature, Rodrigo Garcia, son of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, shows admirable restraint.

Every frame is exquisitely constructed, every breath measured. Why should these characters matter, when nothing happens to them? It is not the doing, but the hoping. It is not the looking, but the longing. For a film about stranded women, there is an emotional tension barely concealed beneath the surface.

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Glenn Close, as Dr Keener, watches for signs that might indicate a release from loneliness. Calista Flockhart comforts her dying lover with nostalgic memories of sexier times. Holly Hunter, as the bank manager who finds that she cannot control every aspect of life, retreats to the safety of a tidy apartment. Kathy Baker is surprised by her response to the new neighbour across the road, a dwarf who works at the hospital, after too long supporting her son through his teen years. Cameron Diaz is sharper than lemons, knowing the predatory instinct of men, anticipating them, even though she is blind, and yet still hurts when they lie to her.

"Only a fool would speculate about the life of a woman," she says. Garcia is that fool, who appears anything but, a man of integrity and sympathy, who recognises in small things the embryo of a greater sadness. Isolation is endemic, it appears.

Beauty and charm, wit and humour, represent the first line of defence. Garcia investigates the second, where pretence lies bleeding and the abyss is exposed as another form of betrayal. "Sooner or later everyone is a disappointment," someone says. Not everything. Not the film.

Reviewed on: 19 Jan 2001
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Disparate lives of five Californan women in search of something else.
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Director: Rodrigo Garcia

Writer: Rodrigo Garcia

Starring: Glenn Close, Cameron Diaz, Calista Flockhart, Kathy Baker, Holly Hunter, Amy Brenneman

Year: 1999

Runtime: 109 minutes

BBFC: 12 - Age Restricted

Country: US


EIFF 2000

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