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Jennifer Jason Leigh,
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Jennifer Jason Leigh,
Dorothy Parker remembers the heyday of the Algonquin Round Table, a circle of friends whose barbed wit, like hers, was fueled by alcohol and flirted with despair. Written by
Not a great deal of fun but a well put together film
Towards the end of her career, Dorothy Parker remembers the past days when she was part of the Algoquin Round Table, a group of friends who shared interests in the arts, drink and witty barbs at each others' expense. However behind the wit she has a lot of hurt and the story follows her through broken relationships and lost happiness.
I have seen this film several times but am only writing a review of it now. It always strikes me as being a very worthy film that is `good' and should be appreciated. But, this doesn't make it an easy film to access or watch. On the surface the overlapping dialogue and quick wit makes for a film hat could be accepted several ways. I was stuck in the middle. At once I felt that these people were pompous and condescending but then also felt that they were witty people and clever! The same with Parker herself at times she was a good character but then at others she was mysterious and very hard to understand.
I suppose this is to the film's credit that it never paints it's subjects in one colour there is room for interpretation. The one thing that struck me (me who uses a lot of sarcasm) is how much hurt was often put behind the barbs. As one character says, she never talks deeply with any of her friends and never gets beyond the next barbed remark. The fact that her life slides the way it does shows the danger in this. However the film does still allow the brighter side of her life to come out as well so that it isn't al gloom. This still doesn't make it easy watching there is no one central narrative other than Parker herself. This made it feel a little free floating and aimless and it occasionally felt as hollow and pointless as the quick wit shared by unhappy people around the table.
The cast is pretty good. Leigh does occasionally come over as a woman giving an impression rather than a performance but she does manage to seem more natural when talking rather than quoting. The support cast is made up of quite a few B-grade stars (of quality and some not) and they all give good account of themselves. Broderick, Gallagher, McCarthy, Taylor and Tucci are among the cast but really it is Leigh's film to win or lose.
Overall this is a classy film. The direction and sets really get the period right and film feels good. However at times it seems aimless and much of the film is actually pretty depressing stuff. I took the warning from it of opening up rather than trying to be a smarta*se all the time, but I'm not sure if that was what it was saying. The cast do well and Leigh makes a good Mrs Parker despite just stopping short of out and out impersonation.
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