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.
Paul Thomas Anderson
Philip Seymour Hoffman
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
Watchable and inoffensive but hardly likely to arouse intense debate about anything, really. The performances are neat and unshowy, with Catherine Keener reliable as ever as (another) wayward hard-ass, Mulroney playing the roguish fool and Jake Gyllenhaal practising for the role he plays in The Good Girl. But Brenda Blethyn's matriarch isn't given any real depth which has got to go down as a missed opportunity. And since the story is an irrelevance, there aren't enough revelations (in fact, none) amongst the introspective musings and general angst to set this apart from any other female-orientated slice-of-life indie. It all feels a bit like Soderbergh's Full Frontal, only less constipated.
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