Union Square (2011)
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The other actors in the film were also right on point, and to me, the acting is really what made this movie as good as it was. About 90% of this movie takes place in one central location, but it doesn't really matter, as the acting is so great you never even think about that. In my humble opinion, this movie is about 2 people who are both trying to run away from themselves, and both trying to portray a face to the world that's not really theirs. It also seems to be about things not always being what you think they are. On the surface, or at first glance, some one or some thing might look a particular way, but once you start digging deeper you find that they aren't that way at all...but something completely different and totally unexpected. It's funny because that's how the entire movie plays out too. It starts out and you think "oh I know where this is going"..and about halfway in you start thinking "wait a minute...it's not going there at all". But where it does end up going is so much sweeter than you ever could've imagined. Great movie, I highly recommend! And Mira Sorvino is one of the most underrated actresses out there...I really would love to see more of her in the future!
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.
Let me get this right ... one sister moves a couple miles away from her family (the Bronx to Manhattan) to escape from an abusive/suicidal mother, and using/cheating/suicidal sister. Then she creates an entire factious story about her family for her Fiancée. OK ... people reinvent themselves all the time, but typically not within the same city.
After three years, her cheating sister shows up unannounced, because the guy who she is cheating with dumps her, and she has no where to turn (except back on the subway to the Bronx, her husband and kids?). The cheater proceeds to step all over her, and breaks all her rules while in her house, with the attitude of, 'I am family. So, put up with it'.
After refusing to leave, and inviting an ex drug using friends over to the house ... it is revealed their mother has died (we find out, about 14 hours after she arrived). She died some time in the past weeks or months ... but she never told her sister, only left a message to call her (Really?)
The older sister totally disrupts the younger's life, potentially destroys her engagement ... and instead of it ending with the younger sister standing up for herself against her sister. She stands up by attacking her husband; the only one who has supported her ... and we get a short video of the abusive mother being only mildly abusive to the grandkids ... and everyone 'hugs'?!?!
The movie should have ended with the younger sister saying, "You know we are family, but I am trying to improve my life. Since you have arrived. You have me worried sick. I am not getting sleep, and have dropped all my work responsibilities. You are dragging me to night clubs, and back into the drug abusive life I escaped. I am stealing from your purse, and popping pills. I am fighting with my fiancée, and you have potentially destroyed my marriage. The video of our mother is heart warming, but Adolf Hitler has a nice video of him playing with his dogs in the Alps. A five minute video does not erase a life time of abuse. I left you behind 3 years ago. This visit has only reinforced my decision on why it was the right thing to do. People change, but they can not, when tied to people who are destructive, like yourself. It pains me to say this, but for my well being, pleased do not contact me again". This ending would have made these horrible characters worth dealing with .... or a murder/suicide ending by the one of the oblivious/emotionally detached male characters.
You can wonder how much our conventional guy can take in hearing all of this.
The characters are real here; they are filled with emotion and they try to come to terms with their mother's death. Estrangement is certainly the theme of this film.
The video showing their late mother is poignant and serves as a lasting tribute.
The primary redeeming factor of this film is the length: mercifully a short 80 minutes... Unfortunately, I suspect its short length is due to severe editing in an unsuccessful effort to salvage the piece. The end result has the feel of a story better suited to the stage rather than the screen. The acting and NYC accents are heavy handed and grating, and the story line is disjointed – simply not worth watching.
You can't get caught up in the main character, she's so abrasively obnoxious. Her sister is a big zero. The relationship of the sister and her fiancé/husband? is bizarre.
Whoever writes these things is not in touch with reality and can't create a story compelling enough for us to care to want to watch it. I sure didn't. I just wanted to slap the main character, and I'm a native born and raised New Yorker.
This movie is an object lesson on how not to make a movie. It's not avant garde, it's just annoying. Take it off your list.