A psychologically troubled novelty supplier is nudged towards a romance with an English woman, all the while being extorted by a phone-sex line run by a crooked mattress salesman, and purchasing stunning amounts of pudding.
Straight-laced Rose breaks off relations with her party girl sister, Maggie, over an indiscretion involving Rose's boyfriend. The chilly atmosphere is broken with the arrival of Ella, the grandmother neither sister knew existed.
The Marks family is a tightly-knit quartet of women. Jane is the affluent matriarch whose 3 daughters seem to have nothing in common except for a peculiar sort of idealism. Setting the tone of vanity and insecurity, Jane is undergoing cosmetic surgery to alter her figure, but serious complications put her health in real danger. Former homecoming queen Michelle, the eldest daughter, has one daughter of her own and an alienated, unsupportive husband. Elizabeth, the middle sister, has an acting career that is beginning to take off, but is timid and insecure, and habitually relieves her trepidation by taking in stray dogs. Only the youngest sister, Annie, an adopted African American 8-year-old, stands a chance of avoiding the family legacy of anxious self-absorption. If only her intelligence and curiosity will see her through what promises to be a confusing adolescence. Each of the women seeks redemption in her own haphazard way. Written by
The thing that makes this movie so - I have to say it - lovely & amazing is what it doesn't do: it doesn't attempt in any shape or form to be commercial, it doesn't compromise its integrity or the integrity of its characters in any way, and it doesn't try to be cute or clever or witty or deep. It simply invites us into the characters' lives and lets us share them for a couple of hours. No judgment, no big overblown speeches, no hystrionics. No car crashes, no dead bodies, no funerals. No artifice, no heavy-handedness, no contrivances.
Nicole Holofcener achieved the same effect in Walking & Talking, which had the same 'effortless' feel to it, and the always-wonderful Catherine Keener is in both, as well. The cast also includes Brenda Blethyn, Emily Mortimer and Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko himself!) and everyone is superb, creating beautifully nuanced and subtle characterizations that ring entirely true.
I trust Holofcener (even though I can't pronounce her name yet) - she doesn't seem like she's going to sell out and make anything remotely commercial anytime in the future, her vision is far too pure for that, which makes her lovely & amazing in my book.
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