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A widower whose book about coping with loss turns him into a best-selling self-help guru, falls for the hotel florist where his seminar is given, only to learn that he hasn't yet truly confronted his wife's passing.
Four women friends: three are wealthy and married plus there's Olivia, a former teacher who's now a maid. The marriages are in various states of health: Franny and Matt are happy and very rich. Christine and David write screenplays together, are remodeling their house, and argue. Jane is angry all the time and Aaron, who's an attentive husband, strikes everyone as gay. Franny sets up Olivia with a friend of hers, Mike, a personal trainer, and Olivia takes him with her to a couple of housecleaning jobs. A benefit dinner for ALS, an awkward guy named Marty whose place Olivia cleans, and a French maid's outfit figure in the story. Is there more to life than its problems? Written by
Opening film for 2006 Sundance Film Festival. See more »
When Jane and Aaron are in the restaurant and Jane is asking for the check from the waiter who appears to like Aaron, Aaron's arms jump around between shots. See more »
So the corrugated metal not only reflects the beauty of the common, off-the-shelf material but also emphasizes the invisible line between the old and the new construction.
Wait. There'll be a line?
Just let him finish.
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This is a movie that has contradictions all over the place. Are they happy or not? Is he gay or not? Am I to feel any sympathies for these people or not? Determined or annoying? There is really much to admire about this study of the well-to-do citizens of the Westside of Los Angeles. Unlike "Crash", this one gives us the positive and negative sides of what these people can be. Those of us who are familiar with the area can recognize how important image is to those with money and how their perceptions are so different from the rest of the world. We try to emulate them, but if we don't have the resources, it isn't possible. For instance, this is a point that is repeatedly made by the main characters in the film. We can afford it, and you (most of the audience) can't. It's hard to relate to that type of character.
What we can appreciate is some very fine performances; from Cusack's very restrained socialite, a woman who seems to be unable to cope with the wealth she owns. She appears to be normal, but she's pretty much limited by her standing. Her husband, a lesser character, appears to be more true to his social class, and he makes no apologies for his social position. Then, we have McDormand's neurotic designer, who is now losing control and is sinking into some very strange psychological episodes. There is not much of an explanation, and it's very frustrating to be amused or concerned by her problems. Still, McDormand does a very capable and entertaining job with her character. The standout is Anniston, who normally doesn't register much in her "star" turns, but here, as she did in "The Good Girl", she shines because she manages to keep her character real and believable. Her dissatisfaction with her actual situation is a cross to bear, and her bad luck in her relationships is something we can find at least believable. She knows these characters and has learned to survive in their immediacy, but she truly understands she will always be an outsider.
One of the most frustrating aspects in this film is how short and underdeveloped it seems by the time it is over. Maybe, as I mentioned before, it remains true to its ambivalent nature. Here is what might have started as an in-depth analysis of what it is to be rich, but in the end feels like a sloppy job. It moved well, shined at moments, and suddenly, it stalled. Is there a sequel in the works? I would certainly like to know where this is all going to end.
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