Nora Wilder is freaking out. Everyone around her is in a relationship, is married, or has children. Nora is in her thirties, alone with job she's outgrown and a mother who constantly reminds her of it all. Not to mention her best friend Audrey's "perfect marriage". But after a series of disastrous dates, Nora unexpectedly meets Julien, a quirky Frenchman who opens her eyes to a lot more than love.Written by
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Written by John Costello
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A Masterful Posey Keeps Cassavetes' Low-Budget Debut Film Afloat
Like father, like daughter. As the daughter of maverick indie filmmaker and actor John Cassavetes and actress Gena Rowlands, first-time director/screenwriter Zoe Cassavetes has a pedigree that inevitably comes with exalted expectations. Interestingly, you can see traces of her father's recognizably low-budget, improvisational-feeling style in this 2007 character study masquerading as a romantic comedy. She's fortunate to have recruited the wonderful Parker Posey to portray Nora Wilder, a confident guest-relations manager at a luxury boutique hotel who is also a neurotic thirty-something concurrently longing for and repelled by the thought of a long-term commitment with a man. What makes this film a bit meatier than an episode of Sex and the City is in the idiosyncratic ways Posey informs her multi-layered performance as she attempts to show a flailing dignity in the face of every possible humiliation she could suffer as a single woman within her married social circle.
The rest of the film does not quite measure up to Posey, as Cassavetes has her going through the paces of dating men particularly bad for her until by happenstance at a co-worker's cocktail party, Nora meets Julien, an affectionate Frenchman who appears quite smitten with her. They naturally embark on a weekend fling that neither wants to end. The rest of the movie plays out in a predictable pattern but with some odd quirks along the way. The result is not a misfire. However, there seems to be a desperate reliance on Posey to bring it all home, which she does handily. Still, there is a charming performance by the charismatic Melvil Poupad as Julien, and he makes Nora's attraction understandable even if the script does not allow him to counterbalance the film.
As married best friend Audrey, Drea de Matteo plays a frustrating character drawn strictly by the numbers, while Justin Theroux manages to exude smarmy conceit as the self-absorbed actor who manipulates Nora. Cassavetes conveniently has her mother play Nora's meddlesome, well-heeled mother with a not-quite-present Peter Bogdanovich as her second husband. The film drags somewhat in the last third, and the ending is both pat and familiar given all that has come before. Still, it's hard to resist Posey excelling in such a fully dimensional role. There are quite a few extras on the 2007 DVD - a fifteen-minute making-of featurette, a thirty-minute episode of HDNet featuring extensive interviews with Cassavetes and Rowlands, and about sixteen minutes of deleted scenes, two of which are comically awkward encounters at the opening cocktail party with an urbane married older man (Griffin Dunne) and a friendly lesbian (Nadia Dajani).
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