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A reluctant reunion of two estranged sisters. One is on the verge of marriage; the other is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Both struggle with truths they're hiding from each other - and from themselves. Jenny has rejected her tumultuous family and cut off communication, seeking a more ordered life far from her roots in the Bronx. And she's almost ready to commit to her longtime fiancé when her sister Lucy - the personification of all that Jenny has been trying to flee - surprises her at a critical time. Lucy and Jenny's combustible reunion brings both of them to unforeseen places, shattering and reconstructing the worlds they have both carefully constructed. Written by
Some terrific acting and an overly simple and obvious story
Union Square (2011)
If you can sustain a short feature like this with acting alone you might be thrilled. The role of wacky, annoying, arrogant, and ultimately sweet (sometimes) Lucy is played by Mira Sorvino with such spot-on intensity and volatility you really come to hate her, then wish she would go away, and then get sympathetic for her, and then actually (maybe) like her. Is she a realistic type? Maybe not quite. When she shows up unannounced all legs and furry boots and plastic smiles shopping bags full of clothes at her sister's you know she is trouble. And she is trouble with a capital T.
The sister, Jenny, is played with deliberate contrast and stuttering, inadequate poise by Tammy Blanchard and she, too, is terrific, if less flamboyant. Jenny has created a perfect, clean, safe world with her husband in a small organic foods business, and she is surprised and a little baffled about Lucy's arrival. She also doesn't have the courage to stand her ground, so Lucy stays for the night. As their opposite life styles raise tempers, a feeling that there is more to the story gradually grows.
The third character, the husband, is a huge weakness here. He's meant to be a minor point, but an important one suggesting success and obsession with running and diet and such. And he's unconvincing and thin. At the very end a fourth character arrives, a surprise, and he's pretty great, but you'll have to wait for that.
So that's the acting, and I do think that's the strength. The story, this conflict of lifestyles and a mysterious (barely) past, is all there is. You do want more. And when the resolution to their conflict comes around (which it must) it's no big deal. Some tears, some smiles, and I guess a sense of completion, movie done. A shame it doesn't go further because there are a lot of elements here that would work, even with the modest setting (it's nearly all shot in Jenny's slick apartment).
I teach a modest history of film class and one of the things that gets brought up right away is that the core to a movie, the first step above and before all else, is a good story, a good concept. That's the thing that gets pitched, written, nuanced. It drives most movies. And it's a chronic problem with small budget and big budget movies alike. The director Nancy Savoca was also the principle screenwriter, and I think she is a far better director than storyteller. It might just boil down to that.
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