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I'm tired of all the films being released about young love, older guys
and younger women, ad nauseum. An Unremarkable Life is a welcome sight
for those of us who don't mind if the cast is "up there" in age and can
appreciate the leisure pace of the story. It brings back fond memories
of films like On Golden Pond, The Whales of August, Travelling North,
and the more recent Innocence.
Patricia Neal (as Frances) and Shelley Winters (as Evelyn) are sisters who have shared a house together for 15 years, and life is quite routine for them. Evelyn is stern and very emotionally dependent on Frances, actually finding comfort in Frances' lack of a "life." Frances is a friendly loving person though, just feeling that she has had "an unremarkable life" and often laments on her days of flying a plane. One day while her car is at a repair garage, she meets a mechanic played by Mako. A nice friendship begins and Evelyn feels her relationship with her sister is threatened....but a beautiful film like this obviously won't let us down and go for a sad ending, it's handled just right and will satisfy those wanting to enjoy a nice romantic film. The story and conclusion, while melodramatic to "too serious" viewers, is quite sweet and satisfying. Will Frances choose between her sister or an opportunity for true love? Ahh, somehow you know it will work out!
It's a tale of sibling devotion, old-fashioned values, bigotry, longing, and sacrifice. It's a perfect film to cuddle up with someone special and let it take you away. Patricia Neal is charming as ever, Winters shows her dramatic yet vulnerable edge so well, and Mako is a perfect gentleman. It's a delightful mix of characters and an engrossing experience. An Unremarkable Life is a real gem and worth the effort to seek this one out. A true classic to discover. I'm hanging on to my bargain no-frills DVD dearly in hopes that one day it's given the deserved DVD treatment!
Hey hippiedj...I also love this movie. I've always been a huge Mako fan
and I have to see whatever he is in, and was thrilled to see him in
this type of story.
I agree with your assessment of the age thing, but I also have issues with Asian characters only being presented as certain types and in certain stories. This movie is so great in that it has an older Asian man and Caucasian woman dating. It's a very cool story, and of course there is the honesty of the conflict with Shelly Winters' character of the controlling/bigoted sister.
I guess there were a few hokey lines and moments, but this remains one of my favorite movies, both for the story and the actors. (Well, I'm partial to Mako, but I think the women were wonderful in their characters as well.)
I just wanted to say that I also have a VHS copy of this movie and had been searching for a DVD for some time...and it is now on DVD and I have one. You should do a search for it and check it out!
In many ways - certainly in the most important ones - "An Unremarkable
Life" is a convincing film. On the flipside to that, there's a level of
depth that was possibly unattainable for the director. There are times
when the approach feels like more of a TV movie type than a purely
artistic one. But it is a surprising engaging story. The script
explores the guilts, fears, hopes, loves, and prejudices of three
elderly people (played by Neal, Winters, and Mako). It's the
relationships of these characters and the performances of the actors
playing them which makes this film so convincing. Also, Charles S.
Dutton is great in a small part.
It's not many films that create that elusive feeling of reality, the quiet moments and movements of real people and the world they live in. Alan Hall's cinematography is warm, and captures the quiet Autumn scenes perfectly. The problems and worries of the characters draw you in, make you feel the same difficulties and make the same hard decisions. Winters brings it all together in a later scene when she laments her "most unremarkable life". Her performance is so heartbreaking, so true, it's hard to express it.
This film is available on DVD, but it's a grainy print and cut down from widescreen. I feel a proper release would give this film the edge of feeling and realness it deserves.
This film breaks some new ground in that it depicts a story of older
people, 2 elderly sisters living together on a limited income, one more
dependent on the other, in a very believable way. And realistically,
the more dependent one is the bitterest - finding fault with the
multi-cultural world around her, sometimes to the point of outright
racism, and particularly in the control she exerts on her sister.
Patricia Neal (as Frances) and Shelley Winters (as Evelyn) are remarkable in their portrayal of the sisters, moving from a jokiness to tactile affection and to outright hostility at times. Very realistic. Evelyn, the controlling sister, is not portrayed in black and white, we see her fears, we see what drives her behaviour and can sympathize.
The plot turns on the fact that Frances meets a man, a mechanic, Max, played by Mako. Mako just about steals the movie from under the two great old stars and injects a terrific tension in his scenes with Shelley. Shelley Winters is remarkable in her restrained performance here. What a great actress.
The only weakness I saw was in the performance of Neal. I think it may have been affected by her stroke. But not enough to hinder my absorption.
This movie is slow, but lovely. Unremarkable in many ways but a true slice of life, carefully unwound, with no easy solution. Like life itself. Recommended. 7 out of 10.
You can almost hear the sales pitch: if it worked with Bette Davis and Lillian Gish in 'The Whales of August', why not here with Patricia Neal and Shelley Winters? The two veteran actresses portray elderly sisters held together by a sometimes stifling routine of mutual support, but drawn apart when the more lively, outgoing Neal meets and begins dating a charming old Chinese handyman. The film meanders politely along on a surplus of quiet dignity and humor, but there isn't much about it that isn't entirely too quiet, which can be both a blessing and a drawback. Nobody suffers a dramatic heart attack or a convenient dose of Hollywood cancer, but in trying to capture the ebb and flow of everyday life the filmmakers seem to have forgotten just how mundane everyday life can be. The final scene will likely bring a lump to even the most stoic of throats, but in the end the film (unfortunately) lives up to its all-too accurate title.
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