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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love this film. That is not to say that it doesn't have flaws. The
dialogue, the camera-work, the lighting, all these things sometimes
seem clunky and amateurish. However, the goal of the film is to put a
romantic relationship under a microscope and portray it as naturally
and honestly as possible. In order to achieve that, some things must be
sacrificed: secondary characters, production design, revelation of
Audiences often see plot and story as the same. Actually, story is the road along which we travel (i.e. this happens, then this happens, then this...), where as plot equals two seemingly unrelated events that effect each other. Most films have more plot than story. That is to say, they cut to the chase, telling us what THIS has to do with THAT. FP does the opposite. It compresses plot in order to focus as much as possible on it's main character: the relationship. FP is not about the way Nicole and Stuart effect each other, or about the way outside forces effect them, it is simply about the fact that this relationship occurred. It began, eventually it ended, and if that can be portrayed honestly, without pulling punches or cutting to the chase, then why would a film need to be anything more?
FP has been compared to Scenes From A Marriage. After seeing FP I've realized that Bergman is a large presence in SFAM and that may be a problem. Bergman shows us Johan and Marriane from a distance, carefully pointing out their foibles as if to say, "look at how absurd human relationships are." Lipsky never does that. He never judges his characters or analyzes them, he simply puts the camera in their faces and says, "this is what a relationship looks like."
In regard to the ending, I am compelled to mention the most effective ending in film history: Anthony Quinn's epiphany on the beach in La Strada. The end of FP should work the same. We've watched Stuart make one mistake after another and just as he realizes how closely he came to an actual human connection and how foolish he was to let it go, we realize that we've made the same mistakes and there is no simple answer as to how to live our lives. Through this we should find sympathy for Stuart and that makes FP more engaging and complex than many films out there. If FP fails to effect it's audience, well then, at least Mr. Lipsky is film-literate, because not enough working directors are. With all of it's flaws and awkward moments, I can't help but fall for a film that challenges me and refuses to assure me that everything will be alright in the end.
Just saw this at Cinema Arts in Huntington NY and I wonder why the negative comments are so nasty. This film is exactly what it claims to be - an independent film, made with limited resources by hardworking actors who give it their all. While all the characters may not be appealing, they are all interesting and have something to say. The younger brother (Jordan), for example, was fascinating. The two leads were excellent and had chemistry that is hard to find in so called major movies. Nicole may have had one or two too many nude scenes, but that's OK. Justin Kirk really caught his character and his dialogue and delivery was excellent. The film could be 20 minutes shorter with tighter editing and might be more enjoyable and have fewer head-scratching scenes. What was the conversation between the mother and the husband in the hospital cafeteria all about and where did it lead to? All in all a six or seven and worth seeing, in my opinion.
"Flannel Pajamas" opens with the meeting of Stuart and Nicole at a
convivial dinner party. Despite Stuart trumpeting his life philosophy
in a narcissistic monologue, the romantic portents seem promising, and
by the end of the evening they are clearly besotted with each other.
The film's Indie credentials are established over the next half hour
with some fairly explicit love scenes, which unfortunately add little
to either plot or character development. In due course the lovers
marry, put on their clothes and start criticizing each other -
immediately transforming the erotic intimacy of their bedroom into a
place of estrangement. Nicole gripes that Stuart doesn't listen to her
and won't talk about his issues - while remaining secretive about her
own. With communication and tenderness in short supply, the marriage
turns rancid as they persist with their complaints and evasions, until
their faces turn sour with resentment.
A troupe of peripheral characters come and go, priming the audience for plot-lines that never materialize, leaving "Flannel Pajamas" full of loose threads and soggy with irrelevant material. The script fails to define the couple's essential problem - and while such ambiguity may be commonplace in marriage, it's a questionable recipe for drama. Most viewers will probably have had enough of this tiresome twosome and their endless duplicity long before the curtain falls.
Flannel Pajamas was intelligent. The dialogue is exceptionally well
written and manages to keep the viewer in the movie - as most good
"Indie" flicks often do. It is more of a character/relationship study
than anything. These types of movies often get overlooked when it comes
to critics or the general public. It is understandable how someone who
likes "XXX" with Vin Diesel would hate this movie - opposite ends of
the spectrum. Likewise, for those of you that loathe the unimaginative
huge budget big-named action films that pollute Hollywood and movie
screens across the country, you'll love this one. Flannel Pajamas is a
much needed break from the mainstream.
Julianne Nicholson and Justin Kirk have excellent chemistry together, doing a superb job of portraying a couple adapting to modern-day problems that threaten to tear them apart. It comes together as a poignant love story of opposites attracting and making it work.
Greetings again from the darkness. Having seen the trailer a few times,
I had pretty much decided this was not one I would see. Then I saw
Roger Ebert raving about it and since he is a movie critic god, it was
obvious I needed to see it.
Now I am not going to write the great Mr. Ebert and ask for my money back, but I must admit I am somewhat baffled by his comments. While there are moments of brilliant intimacy, for the most part this movie is just about the arc of 90% of the relationships today. I wish that were more of a compliment, but instead I compare this to "Before Sunset", the obnoxious remake to Richard Linklater's 1994 gem "Before Sunrise". In other words, it is 2 plus hours of listening to two fairly unlikeable people TALK incessantly about themselves and their relationship. This is definitely no "My Dinner With Andre".
Of course, writer/director Jeff Lipskey tosses is many more characters ... probably too many ... to show the complexities within this or any other relationship. Julianne Nicholson and Justin Kirk are the couple and while Ms. Nicholson exudes a camouflaged charm, Mr. Kirk is little more than a smarmy, unable to communicate about anything important dude who is just like most guys. We pretty much dislike him from the opening scene in the café when his self-centeredness is obvious to all but Ms. Nicholson.
I know little of Mr. Lipsky, but I am not sure if his objective was to visualize the issues of most relationships, point out the lack of judgment exhibited by most women when choosing a partner or some other deep philosophical issue. All I know is that the ending was obvious from the inane opening sequence, although there were some very poignant moments in between.
The best part of the film may be the closing credit song "Thursday" by Asobi Soksu. As for Roger Ebert, my opinion of him is not damaged one bit, as what makes watching movies so wonderful is the slight chance that one may hit you where it counts. "Flannel Pajamas" did this for him, but not for me.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was really looking forward to this movie, especially after the
amazing montage trailer set to the beautiful "Thursday" by Asobi Seksu.
Unfortunately, that song and Justin Kirk are the ONLY good things about
this film. From the first scene, this movie fails. The dialogue is
terribly, terribly written ("Camels are what I smoke; Bacardi is what I
drink; and the unemployment office is where I hang out"???) and nary a
character is interesting or believable.
But for me, by far the worst thing about the film is the Nicole character. Her actions throughout are incredibly selfish. Who would accept $15,000 from a brand new boyfriend at the very beginning of a relationship? Similarly, she is only too happy (once they are married) to quit her job and blow through thousands of dollars of Stuart's savings to start a catering "business" that we never see any evidence of after a single scene in which she is preparing "her first catering job." She demands a dog even though her husband is allergic and hates them. She essentially leaves her husband because he doesn't want a kid within the first two years of marriage -- a pretty reasonable limitation that he discussed with her and SHE AGREED TO before they were married! Good lord! Throughout this movie, the characters are utterly unreal. She celebrates getting fired from a job. He sits calmly at the table with his mother-in-law and enlists her as an ally not three minutes after her anti-Semitic diatribe. The whole thing is just laughable and interminable. What a waste of time and the $5 rental fee. Ugh.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was one of the worst movies I have seen in recent year. From the get go - in the "magical" romantic diner scene -- I found the dialog unrealistic and ridiculously loquacious -- and the characters immensely unlikeable..... especially him: an obnoxious, rich, arrogant prick!! And there was no character development whatsoever!! It was laughable!! The brother goes from being a good guy who is A) invited to their house for Christmas to B) giving a warm, beautiful toast at the wedding to C) ( stop the presses!! ) all of a sudden OUT OF NOWHERE!!!!! being a crazed suicidal genius?? Where the hell did that come from?? And all the talk about her family's craziness was unfounded as well .... I thought the brother had one of the best times of his life there?? They seemed warm at Christmas, and that one brother in the basement did not seem "morose" at all ( perhaps the director needs a better dictionary )?? Of course, by the time the mother's hilarious-out-of-the-blue classic Jew- hating bit arrived at the film's end, it was already way, way too late.... and speaking of the whole "different faith" marriage bit that the director just throws in there like sloppy seconds .... when was that ever introduced/developed?? That whole angle certainly was no "Bridget Loves Bernie" ... and the sex?? The sex???? Never before have I found sex scenes in movies so loathsome to watch, so naked just for naked's sake just because that's how "real" this movie is.... NEWSFLASH!!!! This movie's characters and dialog were not "real" and the sex therefore just felt like the director throwing it in because he could, and it was awful. Just like this whole stinker...
Flannel Pajamas is the new independent film about the relationship of
two individuals who go through the step-by-step analysis from
first-time meetings, to eventual physical affection and then emotional
exchanges. Unknown writer/director Jeff Lipsky deconstructs the
abnormal psyche of two people, Stuart (Justin Kirk) and Nicole
(Julianne Nicholson) and shows the viewer intangible sphere of their
Admiring the courage of two leading performances would be an understatement. Kirk and Nicholson completely engage themselves in their respective roles. The story begins with Stuart and Nicole meeting on a double date. Flirting, paranoia, dilemma, and heated discussion both fuel each other to more intrigue in the other. After their meeting we begin on their relationship road, and a very bumpy road at that. At first, the two seem like such a perfect match despite their differences. Stuart is a confident, money making man, who gives off the sense of inner-conflict but exceptional at hiding it from the viewer as well as Nicole. Nicole on the other hand, has a cute as a button persona who just happens to be living in an apartment with a communal bathroom. Her yearn for a man with financial and emotional stability is evident and Stuart seems to be the answer for her.
Unfortunately the film's emotional centers aren't really there. Even though you can find a bit of every love/relationship film ever made in this film, some real life issues need not to be shared. Lipsky's heart was in the right place when writing the film but his choices of leading the viewer through the tale were falsified by the fact that this is a love/relationship film. Justin Kirk, best known for his bravura performance in Angels in America, completely wears his role with such confidence and inevitable downfall of Stuart is shown remarkably by Kirk. The meeting with Nicole's Anti-Semitic mother gives Stuart the freedom to stretch out his legs and walk through a film which many will/have not enjoyed and give it a more even potent center.
Julianne Nicholson gives that brave and tortured performance that every actor dreams of. Despite spending half the film in the nude that is not the reason why it is "brave" as some critics like to throw in when someone does spend screen time like that. It's what she does when she's clothed and unclothed and her expression of words, her facial transformations in an instance, and even more, giving Nicole a sensitivity and humanity of sheer velocity. In the coming years, I have a feeling we could be hearing Nicholson's name at some award ceremonies.
Although I'm afraid the performances aren't enough to carry a film like this through to the end. Hallow centers and underdeveloped characters are just too much of an imperfection in portrait already pre-painted a little fuzzy. Engagement is vague but emotion is manifested wonderfully.
I hated the characters. I didn't take sides with either of them because
they were both very easy to dislike. This made the movie strange to me.
In other movies, sometimes I have came across feeling sympathetic for
the bad guy, or even rooting for them, but in this movie I just wanted
the two leads to quit being so annoying.
Then it hit me. The reason it was so annoying is because it reminded me of personal experiences and people I interact with everyday. The movie ended up being very realistic once I gave it a chance... and I'll admit, it took me over 1.5 hours before I gave it that chance.
Once it was over, I appreciated my life. It touches on subjects that we have all faced and most of all, it touched on feelings we have all had.
As much as I hated it, I also loved it. If you like to give movies a chance and you have 2 hours of time with lots of patience, I'd recommend giving it a try.
Treat yourself to a cinematic love affair via the extremely personal,
impressively detailed romantic drama Flannel Pajamas. In what is surely
one of the most perceptive and intelligent scripts to emerge this
decade detailing the intense highs and lows of a relationship, viewers
are treated to an insiders look at the birth, fruition and eventual
apathetic demise into one of the most richly detailed and believable
love stories recently released. Credit the realistic script from
director Jeff Lipsky, and two stellar, honest and open lead
performances from Justin Kirk and Julianne Nicholson for skyrocketing
this modest indie production into the history books of romantic cinema.
In detailing the exquisitely realized courtship, Lipsky's script (occasionally clunky and verbose amongst a majority of truthful ranting) taps into both harmonizing and colliding mentalities with equal passion and resonance, coming across as if were actually penned by two extremely intimate lovers. The amazing comfort these two leads bring to the table only helps bring the richly detailed dialog past the point of a petty fictionalization, and almost let's the viewer live vicariously through their most intimate moments in a completely engaging and believable manner. These characters may not be fleshed out to the satisfaction of some viewers and may remain irrelative to even more, yet the objective analysis this filmmaker has dedicated into studying the mechanics behind their vested interest remains unshakable. Of course, most films would be not be complete without some flaws, and for all the sheer integrity invested in portraying the sanctity of this partnership in a truthful light, the small budget feature does become bogged down with subplot's, supporting characters, and a weary conclusion that does not quite know how to finalize itself.
Suffering from your typical "third act syndrome", Flannel Pajamas follows a captivating lover's arc into a final act that betrays the intense honesty and character integrity found throughout for a resolution that feels ambiguous at best, and a closing scene that feels entirely unintuitive. Still, more mature, dialog-driven viewers will be hard pressed to find anything as substantial in the way of an honest love story told in the most human way possible that has come out in recent memory, which more then makes up for a weak conclusion.
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