A struggling widow falls in love with an illiterate short-order cook whom she teaches to read and write in her kitchen each night.A struggling widow falls in love with an illiterate short-order cook whom she teaches to read and write in her kitchen each night.A struggling widow falls in love with an illiterate short-order cook whom she teaches to read and write in her kitchen each night.
What I do miss in DeNiro's performance is the edge of danger that makes him truly transcend his best roles like what he did right after this film as Jimmy Conway in Martin Scorsese's "Goodfellas". Stanley seems to be a distant cousin of DeNiro's similarly passive and inarticulate character in Ulu Grosbard's 1984 "Falling in Love". In what was to be her last film for fifteen years, Jane Fonda seems woefully miscast, looking too intellectually alert and physically aerobicized to portray Iris with conviction. Begging for a Kathy Bates-type to inhabit her, Iris should be downcast about her life and feeling a deepening loneliness about her situation, but Fonda's off-screen resourcefulness makes it difficult to believe this woman would truly feel stuck. It also feels disingenuous of the character to talk about her weight concerns and wanting a couple of eclairs when we are looking at an actress who has made millions on her workout tapes.
Regardless, Ritt is also a master when it comes to showing the trials of everyday people in working class settings, and there is genuine chemistry between the two actors, which helps considerably as the story meanders toward its conclusion. The rest of the cast is used inconsistently as plot devices, in particular, Swoosie Kurtz as Iris's battered sister, who oddly disappears midway through the story, and Martha Plimpton as Iris's sullen, impregnated daughter. I have to conclude the primary problem with the film is the episodic screenplay by Harriet Frank, Jr. and Irving Ravetch, both of whom have teamed with Ritt on a number of superior films like "Hud" and "Norma Rae". The DVD has no extras.
- Apr 18, 2006