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How important is the truth when falling in love? Bella is a Manhattan café waitress, about to turn 35, stuck in a long-term affair going nowhere. Paul is a widower, facing old age alone. Bella's mother sets her up with Bruno, a novelist/cabbie who likes to bed-hop and whose ex-wife expects their two children to stay with him for awhile. While Bruno learns some maturity from his young daughter, Paul answers a personals ad placed by a "widow, 60." The two couples - along with one of Paul's older pals and a Jungian stripper - sort out how to initiate a relationship these days, what to do when someone you like disappoints you, and when to tell the truth. Written by
This film ran through the art house circuit so quickly most people missed it, and that's too bad. Now it's finally beginning to show up on cable, and I hope it gets a larger audience. Amos Kollek's other films are also hard to come by in the U.S. -- I know I'D like to see more of them, after having seen this one, but this seems to have the lightest touch, from what I can tell.
Among the many things it has going for it, is the incomparable Anna Thomson (Levine), a character actor I've followed since her days in the rep company of the original Tracy Ullmann Show on Fox television, through her unforgettable role in Clint Eastwood's UNFORGIVEN, to this interesting role of Bela.
Magical Realism is a kind of sub-genre I always enjoy, and when it plays against the gritty, wonderful city of New York (my home town), I sit up and take notice. This is the kind of dark underbelly of one of my favorite (also underappreciated) TV shows, Jay Tarses' "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd." If you knew and liked that, and can do with something darker and more sexually explicit, you'll probably like this.
Bela triumphs, and so do her strange friends, in this pretty unique film, which is slow paced, as slice-of-life character studies are, so be prepared for that. If you tend to criticize films for being "too slow" or not having enough plot, you might not like this, but if you are happy examining characters and living with great dialogue and situations, hang in there. If you like "Smoke" or "Blue in the Face," you'll probably love this.
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