Saturday 12 August 2023

Movie Review: Lovely & Amazing (2001)

Genre: Dramedy
Director: Nicole Holofcener
Starring: Brenda Blethyn, Catherine Keener, Emily Mortimer, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dermot Mulroney, Aunjanue Ellis
Running Time: 91 minutes

Synopsis: Jane Marks (Brenda Blethyn) is raising her adopted black pre-teen daughter Annie (Raven Goodwin), and also has two grown daughters: Michelle (Catherine Keener) is unemployed and dabbling in trinkety crafts, while Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer) is a struggling actress. All of them have self-esteem issues: Jane opts for liposuction; Michelle accepts a menial job where she meets teenager Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal); Elizabeth is judged "not sexy enough" and has a fling with a star actor (Dermot Mulroney); while Annie is eating her way to weight issues and awakening to the challenges of being black.

What Works Well: Writer and director Nicole Holofcener conceives an understated slice-of-women's-life drama focusing on insecurities undermining both mental and physical health, as the inability to move past self-criticism and superficial judgements is passed on from Jane to all her daughters. Refreshingly, the smart script is too genuine to seek redemption arcs, leading to well-rounded, flawed, and honest characters.

What Does Not Work As Well: The emotional toiling of a not-necessarily-likable group of non-achievers carries limited lasting relevance.

Conclusion: Pleasingly untidy but borders on inconsequential.

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