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|Index||111 reviews in total|
May to December can be the cruelest months if they're about a relationship
between a young woman and an older man. `American Beauty' and more recently
`Ghost World' carried the usual criticism of this socially questionable
alliance, from downright damage in the former to uncertainty about how it
could ever work in the latter.
In `My First Mister,' starring Albert Brooks and Leelee Sobieski, the union works so beautifully in the first half of the film I thought even I could try it. Director Christine Lahti, who won an Oscar for best short film, "Lieberman in Love," concentrates on the flowering friendship between a Goth girl who needs a friend and a job and a 49 year-old haberdasher who has jettisoned everyone in order to live out his life painlessly for everyone.
Jill Franklyn, who wrote the "Yada Yada" episode of "Seinfeld," pens perfect lines for the understated Brooks, such as when he first sees Sobieski: "Scram. Shoo. Why don't you go get your eyeballs pierced?" and another time when he says, "I want the smallest tattoo you have. Can you give me a dot, or a period?"
Director Lahti shows her originality by letting us painfully and slowly watch a purple-haired Sobieski pull out her nose and face rings. This film is the best I have ever seen to give respect to a much-maligned paring in movies. The 17-year-old punker helps him awaken to life's interesting couplings like cavorting mannequins, and he shows her love unalloyed. When the time comes for sex, as it always does in Hollywood, no one cares, even the audience, because the point is the friendship.
In the second half of the film Lahti lets go of her originality to indulge the genre with the usual fatal twist, easy reconciliation of family, and renewal for Sobieski found in a most unbelievable coincidence. Yet I can't forget that first half, where 2 human beings, unencumbered by any expectation other than their own need for connection, follow none of the formulas but love on its own terms.
If you asked me why I saw this particular film I'd like to tell you that
I've seen all of Christine Lahti's films. Truth be told, it's because I'm
middle aged white guy with a bad sense of humor and I live vicariously
through Albert Brooks.
Look at these character contrasts: young girl-old man, freak-straight,
red-gray, latte-sanka, rap-jazz, pierced/tattooed-not either. And now the
similarities- two lonely relationally challenged, uncommunicative,
sarcastic.that feels better.
We meet a poet-eulogist Jennifer portrayed by an almost unrecognizable
Sobieski. Self described as "not a girl, but opposite a boy," Jennifer's
self-mutilation clearly punctuates her pain. Her art is self-focused until
she finds a purpose larger than herself.
A Chaplin-esque Randall Harris (Albert Brooks) is introduced dressing a
female mannequin. Jennifer's looking at him backward thru binoculars
him. This gives her perspective and the opportunity to fantasize. As their
relationship develops his intentions seem noble - or repressed - and hers
exploratory - and expressed.
Controversial? Only in subtext since the age difference will raise
and eyebrows. And there's the absent father issues. Comedic elements
distorted visuals, costumes, makeup and dialogue.
The relationship is treated with such sensitivity - well as much as can be
expected when dealing with an alienated teen and it speaks to the
we feel when we're walking around among aliens.
"Who do you talk to?
Who are your friends?" asks Randall but like most accusatory questions, he
could well direct it his own way.
At the end of the film, you'll find a toast to go into your repertoire.
Watch for it.
This quirky film is a must see for all who need a refreshing look at
relationships and personal growth. And who among us doesn't?
This is a story of an unlikely couple, a 49-year-old clothing store manager
(Brooks) and a rebellious 17-year-old girl (Leelee) just finishing high
school. She needs a job, so she can move out of her parents' house, and he
needs help in the back room sorting clothes. With her black clothes, black
lipstick, black hair with purple strands, and multiple peircings, he
chuckles at her and tells her to come back after she cleans up. She
eventually does, she gets the job, they provide unlikely friendships for
each other that each needed at that time in their lives. In the end they
both gain something they needed. The film strongly implies that she wanted
the relationship to a romantic one, but he learns to love her as a family
member, perhaps the daughter he never had.
Leelee was in two films released in 2001, this one and "Joy Ride." In the latter I found her acting wooden and uninspired. However, in "My First Mister" she was a totally different actress, very effective, very believable. Brooks is his usual good self. John Goodman was effective as the girl's somewhat estranged and slightly off-kilter father.
The DVD image is very crisp and focused. I was especially impressed with the film's lighting and camera work. The many facial close-ups are almost three-dimensional, with a soft out of focus background. Really one of the nicer looking films. Although the sound is Dolby 5.1, most of the sound comes from the front channels
This movie is very cool if you like alternative, angst ridden teenagers trying to do good. The title is awfully deceptive because there is nothing illegitimate about the "older guy - younger girl" relationship at all - here's a short synopsis: Alternative goth chick meets conservative store manager. Neither of them have a life outside of work so they slowly learn to hang out together. The rest kind of falls into place as they see how "the other half" lives, and make each other better people. Great movie to watch with your parents (no drugs or sex) and sweet for an pick-me-up kind of movie. The soundtrack is cool too - it has the great older tunes like Sinatra and such - along with some Marilyn Manson and then some reggae as well.
When deliberating why one story will resonate within oneself over
another, you have to be honest about your own perspective on the things
that are truly important in life, and those things that are tossed out
with the garbage.
While the relationship between J and R is hinted at being more than merely platonic, it is only implied. The far greater impact lies in the strength of two disparate individuals finding self-worth and importance in the existence of another who finds them attractive to be with.
An older man will always find flattering the attention of an attractive (much) younger female, even if he cannot relate to her point of view on life. It helps that J is written in as witty and intelligent vs. say, something from out of "Clueless".
It is somewhat less believable that a Gothic teenager would find an overweight, past middle-aged man attractive - except that the reason J finds R attractive has less to do with appearance and everything to do with the level of trust and respect he shows her after some initial verbal sparring, that really is quite believable. He affords her something that she simply is not expecting. You can imagine this happening.
Being accepted as you are and for who you are is the basis for all honest and lasting relationships. On this point the movie scores a bullseye.
LeeLee Sobieski is a real talent. Yes, she does look like Helen Hunt, but that is where the similarity ends.
Albert Brooks has always had a manner of delivering his lines as though he is making an appeal to his listener's better sense. He is a much under-appreciated comedic talent.
A high recommendation for "My First Mister".
Jennifer Benson (Leelee Sobieski) is a seventeen years old misfit punk
teenager that uses piercing, tattoos, wears only black clothes and dyed
hair, self-inflicts injures and has fixation for death. She misses a
father and a normal mother, since Mrs. Benson (Carol Kane) has trouble
in the communication with her, and feels absolutely rejected. While
looking for a job, she meets the forty-nine years old Randall Harris
(Albert Brooks), a lonely man who owns a shopping store, and he hires
her. They are opposites but with loneliness and lack of friends in
common. They become close friends, and their interaction changes their
behavior for good while secrets and feelings are disclosed.
This is the second work of the excellent underrated actress Christine Lahti as director that I see (the other one is the short "Lieberman in Love"), and also a surprisingly great movie. The original and the Brazilian titles are simply awful and vulgar, and do not mirror this sensitive story of loneliness and friendship. Leelee Sobieski has another great performance in the role of a disturbed and rebellious teenager, needy of love and care, who changes her behavior when she meets her soul-mate friend in a middle-age man. I am not fan of Albert Brooks, but he is great performing Randall Harris, the man who touches Jennifer in the heart. In the end, a toast to all special "F" words: to friends, family, fate, forgiveness and forever. Wonderful and touching! My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Meu Primeiro Homem" ("My First Man")
A feel good weeper comedy/light-drama, "My First Mister" tells of the coming of age of a teenaged pin cushion goth female (Sobrieski) who's into self mutilation and talking to dead people and her platonic love affair with a middle aged conservative and phobic man (Brooks). In this flick about strange bedfellows and a Spring/Autumn relationship, Lahti turns the lens on the female character illuminating many of the insecurities which beset and befuddle teen females and proves once again on celluloid that love conquers all. As the film wears on it plateaus and becomes somewhat muddled by unnecessary quirky characters and an side plot about Brook's past in an apparent attempt to jerk the last tear and keep feel good moments coming. Nonetheless, rising star Sobrieski proves to be a capable and durable centerpiece for a film worth watching front to back.
I think the first hour of this film is the most enjoyable thing I've seen
a long time. Great plot, characters and acting. Sobieski and Brooks make
their characters real people, not stereotypes.
The last 45 minutes are a little melodramatic for my tastes, but by that time I was so invested in the characters, I stuck with the film. The ending is a little ambiguous, which seems much more plausible than a typical "Hollywood ending".
I got this DVD only because of the two leads who are two of my favorites.
expected another crappy film like Ghost World which on my scale was a
I was pleasantly surprised to find a really good effort and an enjoyable, meaningful movie. Kudos to the actors and especially Christine Lahti who showed that she is just as good behind the camera as in front of it.
She successfully created a cross-generational movie. See this whatever your age!
My First Mister is about a gothic and angry teenage girl named "J"(Leelee Sobieski). She doesn't have any friends, hates her family, you might as well put it that she hates her life. One day while she is looking for a job, she stumbles upon "R"(Albert Brooks) a 49 year old man with a beer belly. "R" turns out to give "J" a job at his store and the two of them turn out to be friends and what is next is a wonderful friendship that could last a lifetime and change both "R" and "J" and the way they feel about life. I really enjoyed My First Mister, it was clever, funny and very interesting. It kind of reminded me of Ghost World. I would give My First Mister 9/10
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