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Jon Robin Baitz
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At a spacious house in Los Angeles, Helene is turning 40-years old and her friends whom include French filmmaker Martine, house guest Sophie, and Lydia throw her a party. But also there is Kate a friend turning 30, and Sadie a Hollywood film agent turning 50. So, all of Helene's, Kate's, and Sadie's friends arrive for the party where Martine films the events with her movie camera and the shocking secrets revealed by Helene's mother Whitney, and her younger sister Nancy whom confide in their interviews about their obsession with food, and their roles in life. Written by
There are 30 minutes of this film that will fascinate you, hold you spellbound, totally engage your empathy and emotions.
Unfortunately, these moments are scattered randomly in a movie that's 110 minutes long, and the remaining 80 minutes leave a lot to be desired, with stilted, rushed dialog that almost seems like it's being read from cue cards, characters who come and go so quickly that even when what they say touches you, no lasting sense of connection is forged.
The big issue is the structure itself: 'Martine' is shooting a documentary about the relationship between women and food at her friend's birthday party, giving the characters a chance to deliver monologues straight to the camera that are often fascinating, even riveting. But there are too many people, too many words, too much going on between the characters outside what the documentary camera sees. This could easily have been addressed by giving Martine an assistant, someone to actually work the camera and spy on the party's goings on when Martine is elsewhere. But without that convention, we are often uncertain what is documentary and what is 'real' life.
There is so much here that doesn't matter-- why a triple birthday, for women turning 30, 40 and 50 when the issues of age and aging are largely in the back ground? Why so many people? Why so many conflicts and love stories when the central love affair between women and food is far more interesting than any of the interpersonal stuff?
Several fine performances here-- notably Frances Bergen and Beth Grant, though Mary Crosby at her radiant best is given little to do.
Worth seeing for the 30 good minutes, but sadly disappointing in so many ways... ultimately, it's a man putting words in women's mouths about what it's like to be a woman, and it's certainly not a comedy. I hope a woman film maker chooses to make the actual documentary at the center of this movie-- that's a film I'd love to see.
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