Georgia Mozell, Eve Marks and Maddy Mozell are adult sisters. Georgia is the editor of her own wildly successful self-titled women's magazine. She strives for publicity at any cost. Party planner Eve is the mother hen of the group, not only of her own family, but also of her siblings and father as their mother, Pat, not only emotionally left their father when they divorced, but her daughters as well. And Maddy is a vacuous soap opera actress who has always struggled for her own identity. Despite being as busy with her own life as the others, Eve is the only one of the three who deals with the long term hospitalization of their cantankerous seventy-nine year old father, Lou Mozell, when he enters the early stages of dementia, and the associated outcomes of that hospitalization. Eve's caring for Lou is despite an especially hurtful incident with him seven years earlier. As the emotional aspect of looking after Lou becomes more and more stressful, Eve has to figure out how to maintain ... Written by
When the three sisters are en route from the Nixon Library to the hospital, they drive across a bridge on the wrong side of the road (apparently a reversal of the negative). See more »
You know, that I actually met a girl by the name of Moo Goo Gai Pan? That was her last name. Her first name was Freida. Freida Moo Goo Gai Pan. She was half-Jewish, half-Chinese. A lot of people called her the Ori-Yenta.
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I rented this movie (`Hanging Up') and I found it devastatingly effective.
At the center of the movie is Meg Ryan, whose movies I've not seen a lot. Her character, Eve, is really the fulcrum on which the whole movie balances. Much as her character's car is boxed in by a parking-garage accident early in the movie, I got the feeling that the movie was a meditation on whether her life is of her own choosing and making, or whether it is something she has largely been trapped into.
Part of the art of the movie is, I feel, that the character doesn't really know. This isn't made explicit in dialogue - rather, you can see it in her face as she repeatedly goes through situations in her life. And in her reactions to those situations, you can see the many little waves of emotion sweeping over her, all vying for the upper hand. It's as if she's perpetually trying to find her place and regain her balance.
And this may be what some people who saw the movie and didn't like it don't see: at times, you wonder if she's really going to crack. An example is the brilliantly conceived set of characters represented by Eve's mother (in a brief appearance by Cloris Leachman) and Eve's husband (who has slightly more screen time). Each very clearly rejects Eve's father. But, in doing so, each of them places, perhaps unwittingly, a huge demand on her. For Eve, to live in the world that is dictated by others' expectations and reactions, whether reasonable or unreasonable, is to deny herself. And yet, the paradox is that, while her continued interactions with her father and sisters represent a possibly destructive degree of self-denial, in all the caring she dispenses to others, she is her best self. Her use of the phone is the clear metaphor for that she can't stand to stay on it, and yet she can't stand to stay off of it.
Diane Keaton's direction is very impressive in the movie, in my opinion. The staging and editing are first rate, and really frame the story beautifully. Her acting performance in the film is a little awkward, but her ability as a director to really get the actors to play with a subtlety and spontaneity in their reactions to each other (particularly in scenes between Meg Ryan and Lisa Kudrow) is very skilled.
I think that if a viewer sees the movie as just a light comedy or a succession of gags, they have really missed the point of what Diane Keaton is trying to do. I find that hard to fathom, because Meg Ryan's central performance clearly is meant to showcase the character's essential emotional confusion, and I feel like the direction emphasizes this repeatedly. Maybe some viewers are distracted by Meg Ryan's beauty, which may have had the effect of setting up some distance between themselves and the character. It could be argued that Keaton allowed Ryan to be so well dressed, often in extremely flattering outfits of pastel colors, that it's hard to take seriously that the character could be an emotional mess. Eve may have inadvertently been robbed of some of the character's gravitas as a result.
I see a lot of darkness in Walter Matthau's character as well, but the affection between him and the Meg Ryan character is also very clear. Adam Arkin contributes a fine supporting performance in the movie as Eve's husband. His character could have easily been so blandly cast that it would have sunk right into the background, but he is a confrontational, yet gentle, force in Eve's life, and helps call the question as to whether Eve's life is in the state it's in by her own choice or not.
So, to sum up, I think that to dismiss `Hanging Up' as a heartwarming bauble is to miss a lot. The central character is a woman that is pulled and tugged in so many directions, all in the midst of a life that looks deceptively normal given her stresses, but is really one that remains hers to define. By the end of the movie, you can see in Ryan's expressions (and judge for yourself) the degree to which she has, or has not, come to a level of acceptance about her lot.
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