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"Lovely and Amazing"

Directed by Nicole Holofcener.
Written by Nicole Holofcener. 
Starring Catherine Keener, Emily Mortimer and Brenda Blethyn.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  7/24/02 

The film group I hang with went to see “Lovely & Amazing” this past weekend, so since I am unemployed and spend most of my days looking out the window, I figured

Shit, I’ll hang out!

“Lovely & Amazing” stars Catherine Keener, Brenda Blethyn and Emily Mortimer as three women that are living out problematic lives.  Michelle (Keener) is involved in a failing marriage, and her struggling crafts career is going nowhere mostly because she is putting in no effort to sell her wares.   Her sister Elizabeth (Mortimer) is a struggling actress and model that possesses no self-confidence in her abilities and no love at home from her boyfriend (James Le Gros).  Their mother, Jane (Blethyn), who has adopted an eight-year-old black girl named Annie (Raven Goodwin), wants to look better and decides to have liposuction performed to sheer ten pounds off of her gut.

And, over the course of the 90-minute film, writer/director Nicole Holofcener profiles her characters over the span of a few days, rather than lay out any particular plot to lead the characters towards a resolution.  As one guy that is in the group said that night after the film, he was just waiting for when he could “leave the world of the self-centered bitch”, because that’s what all three women seem to have in common.  Keener’s performance as Michelle, in particular, sums up the essence of “Lovely & Amazing”—whenever she is presented with a problem, she tells off whoever is involved to “fuck off”, as if that will solve any of the myriad problems that she is facing.  I couldn’t tell if Holofcener was trying to paint these characters as good people with problems, bad people that are just now realizing how messed up they are, bad people that are bad and just don’t give a damn...maybe it was neither, but as a guy, I was lost on why Michelle should be so upset that she isn’t selling anything but is putting in no effort to sell her artwork, or why she takes up with a one-hour photo employee (Jake Gyllenhaal, “Donnie Darko”) that is 20 years younger than her.

Or why Mortimer’s Elizabeth comes to realize so late that maybe she isn’t as sexy as she would like to be, or why she is always complaining about situations that she herself sets up.  I asked myself “You want some cheese with that whine, trick?” about five times during “Lovely & Amazing”, but I never did enjoy the resolutions that Holofcener comes up with for her characters.

As a whole, there are some great things in “Lovely & Amazing”—Mortimer’s performance in particular is very intriguing, including an incredible sequence where she asks a lover to go over the positives and negatives about her body; by far, this is the best scene in the film.  Supporting turns by Goodwin, Gyllenhaal, Dermot Mulroney, and Aunjanue Ellis (from the earlier “Undercover Brother”) are very good, and the script has some pretty good laughs sprinkled throughout.  The cinematography is not very inventive or interesting, and the score is nothing to write home about.  But, this is one of those movies where I just got mad watching the lead females at times, partially because they were using odd logic and partially because I KNOW women like Elizabeth—hot, so hot that she appears in Vogue at one point early in the film, but she needs constant confirmation that she really is beautiful and deserving of such an honor.

Not great, but not too bad either.  “Lovely & Amazing” pushes some buttons, I can at least give it that.

Rating:  Matinee


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09