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Stacy Holt, an associate producer for a daytime talk show, is confounded by her boyfriend Derek's unwillingness to talk about his previous relationships. Egged on by her co-worker Barb, Stacy sneaks a look at his personal digital organizer, scores the names and numbers of his exes, and sets up interviews with them--all in an effort to get closer to her man. Her plan starts to unravel, however, when she becomes friends with one of the women. Written by
Is it all right to say that this film surprised me? Will I be shot whenever I try to talk to anyone about film if I say this? Well, I am going to take a risk and be honest with everyone when I say that I actually enjoyed this film. It was not at all what I was expecting and answered the question as to why Holly Hunter and Kathy Bates would choose to do a film of this level. This was a very quirky film that suddenly went into this dark cavern at the end that left my jaw hanging wide open. Little Black Book speaks about relationships, the honesty of life, and the brutal truth of the television programming we like to call, reality television. Ever watch Jerry Springer and wonder how they get guests like that onto the show and be surprised by the truth that unfolds? Well, strangely enough, Little Black Book answers those questions. While Brittany Murphy headlines this film, she is definitely not the star. Her acting ability takes back seat to some of the most powerful actresses in Hollywood and even backseat to a story that did not come from Hollywood's recycling bin. This was a surprise film for me and proves yet again that you cannot judge a film by the way that the marketing team has decided to create the box and previews.
I mentioned that Murphy's acting was not the pinnacle point to this film, and I cannot stress that enough. The true stars of this film are Holly Hunter and Kathy Bates. I though that they took these exceptionally small roles and defined the entire film with them. This is especially truth with Holly Hunter. Her character confused me throughout the entire film, constantly making me think that she took this role to pay more bills and that was all. Then, when the ending took shape, I knew exactly why she agreed to this performance. It was outstanding. The ability that Hunter has to contain all that she needs until the very end was amazing for this film. Normally, you don't expect to see that caliber of acting in a film called Little Black Book, but you do. Hunter plays the part of the little red devil on Murphy's shoulder so well that it would be hard not to see it until the final moments. I don't want to give anything away, but do not give up on the performances until the climactic ending. You will be utterly surprised. The same for Kathy Bates that seemed like she didn't do anything special, but I saw that she did. She, again, took a very small character and almost centralized her to the entire film. Not something I was expecting with this little ditty of a film. Ron Livingston does decently well playing Berger I mean Derek. While Murphy falls at the end of the pile due to constantly trying to upscale those actresses that surround her. You could tell that she was trying to keep the focus on herself instead of working with her surrounding counter-parts. This was the only negative aspect to the acting, the battle between Murphy's ego and the rest of the ensemble cast.
If this film could win any award out there, I think that it deserves a writing award. Screenwriter Melissa Carter has taken everything we know about romantic Hollywood films and almost repotted it into the world of reality television. These were two avenues that I didn't think could be combined, but they were and done with the skill of a find author. What I mean by this is that the story flowed. There were not any jumps, bumps, or painful moments from the beginning to the end. The writing was surprisingly strong for this film. I was not expecting some of the lines to come from our actress's mouth, but they did and were very poignant to the plot. This was not a film overly cluttered with cheesy catch-lines like "You've Got Mail" and "You had me at 'Hello"". The lines for this film were dark and a bit disturbing which surprised me that I didn't catch on to them earlier in the film. Again, I was ready for a simple romantic comedy, but found something disturbingly original and different in both the acting and writing.
Finally, I would like to say that without modern technology this would have been a very simple love story. The characters would have remained in one place without the excitement of a PALM or computer. So, my next question to you is this, is modern technology the true villain of this film? There is the obvious one that appears near the end, but I don't think the idea of technology as the villain is ever presented. If it weren't for the PALM that Derek gives Stacy, none of this would have happened. They would have gone about their lives happy and none the wiser. Perhaps this film would have still been made, except with the modern technology it would have been labeled as a sci-fi, and that would have been an all together wild ride for anyone tuning in. Perhaps I have wandered off the beaten path a bit with this idea, but as I was writing this review I was thinking of how much emphasis there is on technology in this film, and perhaps director Nick Hurran was slightly slapping us in the face with this notion of evil technology. Something to think about as you watch this film.
Overall, I was impressed. As the laughter from my peers continues to engulf me, I stand by my decision and proudly wave it above my head. If you can get past Murphy's role and acting in this film, then I think you will also see the originality and creativity behind this picture.
Grade: **** out of *****
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