Young Augusten Burroughs absorbs experiences that could make for a shocking memoir: the son of an alcoholic father and an unstable mother, he's handed off to his mother's therapist, Dr. Finch, and spends his adolescent years as a member of Finch's bizarre extended family.
Former British pop star Gary Shaller is at a crossroads in his life: his job in New York City is going nowhere, his American wife, Dora, drives him crazy, and he passed his thirtieth birthday four years ago. Add to that his best friend Paul seems to become more successful every time he breathes. Gary is feeling depressed and dejected... until he meets Anna. She's glamorous and smart; she's seductive and witty. Best of all, she's crazy about Gary. Anna is the girl of Gary's dreams...literally. And that's the problem. Gary can only see Anna in his dream life, so he's got to find a way to carry on the most satisfying relationship of his life, in his dreams. His quest for lucid dreaming techniques introduces Gary to some crazy characters who ultimately give him a new perspective on life. Written by
Sometimes I wish that you could just hit the sack and never wake up. If your favorite song never ended, or your best book never closed, if the emotions mustered from these things would just go on and on, who wouldn't want to stay asleep? The guy who discovers that perpetual dream, he's my man.
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modest but occasionally insightful mid-life crisis drama
If indie dramas are to believed, there are essentially two reasons why there is so much unhappiness in the world (at least among the more privileged classes who have the time and resources to think of such things): a) people can't stand the idea of being alone in the world, yet they also can't stand the idea of being with another person for long stretches of time either, and b) it's hard to come to terms with the contrast between what we imagined our life would be like and what it actually turned out to be.
A case in point is "The Good Night," a mid-life-crisis drama with a surrealistic twist. Gary is a songwriter/musician who used to be part of a band but who has now been reduced to writing commercial jingles and scores for second-rate TV shows. A somewhat de-glamorized Gwyneth Paltrow plays Gary's nagging long-time girlfriend who's definitely become disenchanted with their relationship, while the ultra-glamorous Penelope Cruz stars as the literal woman of his dreams until she materializes and becomes a part of his waking world that is. In fact, a fairly large chunk of the movie's running time is taken up with Gary's dreams, which inevitably feature this alluring figure who stands in obvious counterpoint to Dora's flesh-and-blood imperfections. And then there's Danny De Vito as the scene-stealing New Age dream-whisperer who attempts to maneuver Gary through his crisis.
The point of the film, written and directed by Jake Paltrow (brother of Gwyneth), seems to be that ideal worlds and ideal relationships exist only in dreams, and that, if you want to survive and maybe even find a little bit of happiness in this life, you had better start accepting some compromises and limitations and not, as Voltaire once opined, make the perfect the enemy of the good. Even Gary's dream-woman is eventually unmasked as a relatively pedestrian fashion model who definitely does not live up to the dreams and fantasies Gary has about her before he meets her in the actual flesh.
The movie does a nice job transitioning back and forth between the world of reality and the world of dreams, and the actors demonstrate an astute understanding of the roles they are playing. Some of the conversations and arguments the lovers engage in are almost too painfully realistic at times, with Dora, in particular, unloading her feelings on Gary to withering effect.
It's not exactly a world-shaking human drama, but it offers some insightful observations into those maddeningly messy things we euphemistically call "romantic relationships."
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