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14 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Worth seeing - low rating be damned, 5 December 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Anyone who's worked in an office environment will recognize the dread and anxiety of working under a high-strung new boss. What will surprise you is how the workers all adapt in one way or another. At first, out of fear of losing their lousy jobs in a down economy, but then, as their work might actually result in something positive, out of a sense of purpose, albeit consolatory.

The performances are uniformly excellent and Parker Posey is both brittle and formidable. Her interactions with Pete (Eric Mabius) are fraught with tension and unpredictability. She plays a character motivated by ambition and her ultimate actions come both as a surprise and completely within the realm of probability. And the big reveal also reveals the lengths to which Pete will go to land employment, even if it's at a workplace he has little passion for.

Most of the reviews I've read have misread the ending as losing its satirical edge. I'm assuming these reviewers think it ends happily. But it doesn't. Pete ends up doing exactly what he had said all throughout the movie he didn't want to do: give up on music and go to work in the retail corporate world. There is a very pointed message here. Pete is a sort of all-American everyman. Someone whose dreams were deferred indefinitely. The entire movie is about how people as bright and promising as Pete, and even his wife Sara, fool themselves into lives they never wanted. And about how they adapt to diminished expectations.

How's that for striking close to the bone?

6 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
this movie is SOOOOO bad, it's bad, 27 April 2005

BUT for that very reason, i highly recommend it to anyone who is sick of quality. oh sure, film can attain the poetic. yeah yeah. but then a movie like this will be made, humbling all high-flown notions about the heights film can attain. all-around horrifically bad acting (note the "cracker" jogging for his life from flora's diner), crappy background music (someone wake up the trumpeter and tell him to read the sheet music, huh?), poor film stock (but alas, it looks like the DVD releasing company color-corrected the 70s pink out of it), corny framing (note the waving American flag as Bubba gives his heartfelt soliloquy on the steps of the trailer post office.) it's high camp for those starved for poor taste. like me.

i'm giving it a '1' because it deserves it and connoisseurs of the bad would do likewise. but we LOVE crap like this, so a '1' in our books means #1!!! even though it really is awful and you'd be a sucker to watch it. but a lucky sucker indeed.

13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
very close to the book, 20 April 2005

great film, but probably the most misrepresentative ad campaign i've ever seen for a movie. this is NOT a comedy. Christine Lahti's Sylvia is NOT a one dimensional free-spirit. she is disturbed, as is the entire family. this translates perfectly from the book, as does the film's look and emotional atmosphere.

as for the opinion that Sylvia is a Pied Piper, that's just wrong. she could care less if anyone follows in her path. it just so happens that her niece is seduced by virtue of what i would interpret as instinct. the family has a long history of breaking from the norm, much to its detriment. the niece is merely fulfilling her filial destiny.

to say that the story presents a polemic about nonconformity shortchanges the viewer from the complexity of emotions that it evokes. there is no argument. this is just the way things turn out for these folks. and in my opinion, the ending leaves us questioning, just as it does in the book, how much control we have over destiny.