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15 out of 17 people found the following review useful:

A minimalist treatise on despair and urban alienation

Author: Jasper Sharp (jasper_sharp@hotmail.com) from Amsterdam, Netherlands
6 August 1999

Sue is in her mid-thirties, unemployed yet seeking work, and having trouble paying the rent on her New York apartment. She lives alone and appears to have neither friends nor family other than a mother with Alzheimer's in a home far away in Oregon. She spends her days seeking solace in cafes or on park benches, chain smoking and ineffectually attempting to engage in conversation with complete strangers. These early scenes effectively and succinctly introduce Sue's character, capturing the alienation and desperation that some people face in a late 20th century urban environment. Subsidiary characters are either too busy or self-absorbed to offer her the time of the day, and all transactions are limited strictly to the materialistic: Endless refills of coffee are poured out by cold, unsmiling faces in the diners and restaurants that Sue frequents. Elsewhere Sue submits to the request of an old black man to shows her breasts to she meets in the park after he buys her a drink costing 75 cents and talks to her for a while. As the film progresses, she increasingly takes to casual sex with strangers in order to forge some sort of emotional connection, no matter how transitory. Sue just desperately wants to be loved.

Sue's character is wonderfully played by character actress Anna Levine Thompson (who's had bit-parts in numerous films, from 'Warlock' to the 'The Unforgiven'), capturing a range of emotions from nervous despair to whining self-pity. At first we are clearly forced to identify with her, as all ancillary characters are kept clearly on the periphery. This is mirrored in the films visual style, with its narrow depth of focus and its muted grey colour palette. Later on, as we get to see her and how she interacts with other characters, you are more filled with the urge to shake her: With her indulged defeatism she comes across as more self-centred than any of the other characters.

Using low-grade film stock, director Kollek captures New York in all of it's earthiness, stripped of the glitzy veneer of the standard Hollywood portrayal and eschewing the exaggerated grittiness of the likes of Martin Scorsese or Abel Ferrara. My main complaint is that the film is a little too narrow in focus. The basics of the character are so well handled in the first half hour that there is little gained in travelling much further along the same path, and in its own right, the basic premise barely warrants the length of a full feature. Subsequent scenes are merely an accumulation of detail, and there is not much in the way of character development past this. Even after she embarks on her relationship with Ben (Matthew Powers), she shows no real of changing, and the film continues along the same vein before coming to an abrupt halt as the credits role. At other times, Kollek's script resorts to a melodrama at odds with the verisimilitudinous tone of the rest of the film, such as when her friend Lola holds up a bar with a gun (before they even finish their drinks!), or Sue has an erotic encounter in a cinema. Important details are sketched over (why does she lose her job, for example?), and at times plot climaxes seem imposed artificially.

Despite these reservations, it's a well made and strong film, suggesting that we make our own luck, and that some people are born to be victims, and wouldn't have it any other way. Kollek and Levine have recently completely another film ('Fiona'), which I would certainly forward to seeing. UK distributors, where are you?

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12 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

one of the best portraits of a woman ever made on film

10/10
Author: Olivier Avellana (olivieravellana@hotmail.com) from Paris, France
4 January 2002

When I met director Amos Kollek last may in Cannes where he was presenting Queenie in love, I told him that Sue was one of my favorite movies ever. It's hard to describe this film, so the easiest way to do it is to say that it's one of the best portraits of a woman ever made on film. You cannot but fall in love with Sue, beautifully incarnated by now cult actress Anna Thomson (at least cult in Europe, especially in France where she's quite famous), who is one of the most touching actresses of today, not to mention her very particular beauty. Sue is a woman in her early 30's who loses her job and little by little, loses her spot in society in pityless New York city. She is swifted away from the "real" world and finds herself alone, resigning herself to a sad destiny that she's incapable to escape, in spite of the help some people are trying to give her... I think anybody who's lived in New York or any other big city and who loves real people and poets will love is film. Because Sue is a poet, only she never wrote or didn't have enough self-confidence to do so.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

touching portrait of a falling woman

9/10
Author: jozsefbiro from Budapest, HUNGARY
6 January 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A previous piece by Amos Kollek about the dark side of metropolitan life: loneliness, unemployment, homelessness, hopelessness. This movie is a portrait of a woman (Sue) in her mid-thirties. Sue is lonely, has no job and cannot afford to pay the rent of her apartement. Her efforts to find friends, to find a partner or to find a job gradually fail. She gets to an unstoppable downward spiral and at the end of the movie we see her sitting on a bench in a hopeless situation, totally depressed and lost. I have seen several movies with similar stories: what makes this one different is that it on emphasizes Sue's personal responsibility in her life: she gets several chances throughout the story but cannot grab them. The real reason of her fall is not her financial situation or her joblessness, but her inability to find proper relationships. If society is responsible for Sue's fate (and I do think it has a share in it), then this responsibility lies somewhere deep in the roots of our society, the way we all think about our relations towards other people.

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11 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Spiral Down

9/10
Author: dromasca from Herzlya, Israel
4 January 2003

A very well written and made movie, 'Sue' was for me a revelation. I can certainly just be sorry that the director does not work more in Israel, the Israeli cinema certainly needs directors with such a talent.

Sue is the story of a lonely woman, craving for friendship and love, but incapable of building or making last any relationship. It is also about living in New York, enjoying the diversity and the colors, and the crowds, but getting slowly killed by them. It is also about finding human feelings in unexpected places, and not being capable of responding to them. All these may have been said and seen before, but Kollek's movie succeeds to bring them in a very exquisite balance.

Acting is superb, the story telling is fluid. The life of Sue seems to have ups and downs, as most life story have, until you realize that this is a hopeless spiral down. Human and touching!

I think that this film had a lot of success out of the US because it reflects very well the mix of attraction and fear that we, non-American feel for New York.

9 our of 10 on my personal scale. A gem!

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7 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

Desperation - Incapability - Chance - Resignation - Hope!

10/10
Author: Florian Kinast (floxman@gmx.net) from Vienna, Austria
13 December 1998

I saw this movie at the Viennale - a film festival in Vienna. For me it was really a very impressing, but at the same way very depressing movie. It shows the needs and the incapability of people to handle human relations especially in big cities as New York. In this city that never sleeps and no one ever is alone so many people are lonely. The search for human nearness is such a central point in life but if it is getting real we often do not know what to do. That's why we often reject people who are starting to be close to us.

The movie is about a desperate woman, who has no job, no friends, and a big scare in her heart to be with out one. That's why she tries to hold on every man she meets, but not able to open herself - knowing her problems, but not actually wanting or being capable to make a change.

For me it was a very realistic movie, because I had vistited NY this very summer before, and I know the scenery in which the movie took place. The "Madison Square Park" in which finally everything ends. And exactly in this park I saw this summer a person also totally desperate and close to the end. I did not do anything. What should I? However, that's why I think it is not only a movie, or a story, but also an image of the real life.

After the movie I had the luck to ask Mr. Kollek himself about his own point of view according to some special scenes. For me it was a kind of pessimistic situation which was described by him, but he said, that he does not think that it is pessimistic, but only realistic. It is up to everyone himself to change his situation. But to be honest I have got to admit, that I did not really understand his attitude versus this point, because I think in a live there are some many dependencies that sometimes your are not able to make such a big change on your own (alone or lonely) But this might be a result of mutual mistunderstanding. And so what I wrote Mr. Kollek said have not been his words but only how I understood him. I don't want to quote him the wrong way.

After all it was a real great movie. And perhaps everybody else will see other things in it. But isn't it that, what great cinema is made of. Interpretations are always part of a movie.

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5 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

downward spiral

Author: amir_h from Canada
20 June 2000

This film was made with sincere intentions, but I feel that characters in similar predicaments have been portrayed more eloquently and more realistically in other films. Sue is obviously influenced by the films of John Cassavettes, but fails to achieve the same poignancy.

The film is a hodgepodge of scenes where the title character, a severely depressed woman, finds herself having quirky interactions with the people she encounters. Sometimes she initiates these interactions, sometimes others are drawn to her and sometimes they just seem contrived to keep things going. The pacing of her decline seems a bit off and just when something develops for the better, the story takes another dip to ensure its procession towards tragedy. We are never clued in on the origin of this woman's condition or given other details of her background, as though it's sufficient to witness her daily trials and shake our heads at how unfortunate things are. I would have liked more profundity in some of her relationships in place of the forgettable scenes with the ditzy so-called writer (from Minnesota, but with a NY accent) and the cliché street-tough girl.

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1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:

Brings Back A Lot of Memories

8/10
Author: Lisa Falour from France
27 August 2008

I, too, was lost in Manhattan, and a few other places, so I liked this a lot. It doesn't have the outrageous explicit sex and violence some might seek -- it's mostly black humor. Sue is very fragile and can't seem to manage her own life. She's painfully lonely and a great conversationalist. I found that this was very sad, but very funny, too. So bleak, it cheered me up. If you think you have it bad, you might want to see this to help you realize that you and only you can bail yourself out. I give the filmmaker(s) a lot of credit. This is exactly the type of movie I would make if I could get it together. I think a lot of people, especially women, will be able to relate to this one. If you've never spent time in New York, you might find the actual locations, such as the Odessa Restaurant in the East Village, interesting, and if you know the city, you'll remember a lot.

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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

very moving

10/10
Author: gg-109 from Germany
24 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

this is not a nice film. its very harsh. any of us with nice parents and a house with food should thank him upstairs. everything runs against the chance of sue surviving, in fact death is actually a happy release.

anna thomson is now my favourite actress. totally compelling,sexy, fragile but resilient too, difficult to watch and massively frustrating. you just want to reach into the screen and shake her then hold her. its sometimes too much to bear. she deserves more recognition. (I predict a late blooming, the french always know a good thing when they see it: she will be massive and I was right about clooney in the early nineties) watch it and weep. great movie.

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9 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Dreary times with Sue

Author: Bob Taylor (bob998@sympatico.ca) from Canada
11 April 2005

Anna Levine/Anna Thomson seems to have inherited the mantle of Gena Rowlands in those awful Cassavetes films of the 70's, A Woman Under the Influence and Gloria. This is woman-as-victim in a soup of hysterical emotion and over-acting. My toes used to curl in embarrassment as I watched the film spool by, hoping I'd get a respite from Rowland's suffering at the end.

Anna Levine was good as Delilah, the hooker with a slashed face in The Unforgiven, and was fun to watch as Vera, the transsexual in Water Drops on Burning Rocks (my favorite of Ozon's films) but this time she's awful in a terrible movie. Levine wears coats and scarves that seem oddly out of date, as though she was Doris Day waiting for Mr Right. She has big lips that droop but aren't expressive at all, and with the dumb dialog by Kollek, it's all very tiresome. Tahnee Welch plays Lola, the criminal hooker, with a sort of brisk efficiency which moves the story along. Tracee Ellis Ross does a great job as Linda, the aspiring social worker who leaves for California--I kept hoping she'd walk off with the picture, but no, we are stuck with Nembutal Sue.

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4 out of 13 people found the following review useful:

Mostly See And Forget

Author: Karl Self from Yurp
26 February 2001

A sympathetic look at the life of a young, unhappy woman feeling lost and lonely in the Big Apple. I could not really get warm with this movie; I thought it was too linear, too much cliché, not enough development. And the actors, especially the lead (Anna Thomson / Levine) were far too good - looking to be believable -- I started to daydream about her and stopped caring about how the story unfolded.

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