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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 11.11%
Average: 33.33%
Pretty Bad: 14.81%
Total Crap: 3.7%

2 reviews, 15 user ratings

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Lovely and Amazing
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by Stephen Groenewegen

"Female affairs"
3 stars

Lovely & Amazing, the second feature from writer-director Nicole Holofcener, is an American independent film about a family of women.

Brenda Blethyn is Jane Marks, the mother of Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer) and Michelle (Catherine Keener) and adopted black teenager Annie (Raven Goodwin). Giving Brenda Blethyn a black daughter again canít help but conjure memories of Secrets and Lies, but the films otherwise have nothing in common.

Michelle is hardened and cynical, and wields her sarcastic wit like a blunt instrument. Her husband (Clark Gregg) has had enough; heís having an affair with her best friend. Elizabeth is younger, an insecure and naive actress whoís just landed a supporting role in a major Hollywood film. Sheís only playing the neighbour but her part is sufficiently noteworthy to land her on the poster. Her first big break has only increased her self-doubts and boyfriend Paul (James LeGros) is on the verge of walking. Meanwhile, Annie resents being black in an affluent white household, and seems headed for a serious eating disorder. Unfortunately, mum isnít on hand to help any of her daughters this time - sheís in hospital awaiting her first liposuction operation.

Lovely & Amazing follows these characters over the course of a few days. It takes brief affairs with the unlikeliest of partners Ė a geeky teenager (Jake Gyllenhaal) and a narcissistic leading man (Dermot Mulroney) - to soften Michelle and toughen up Elizabeth. The film looks set to end in tears for everybody before Holofcener turns things around at the end, making an unremarkable comment about the arbitrary dealings of fate.

But itís nice to see the women take centre stage. Lovely & Amazing isnít especially lovely or amazing, and it meanders too much for my taste. What makes the ride enjoyable are the performers, especially Keener. Without breaking character or consciously playing for our affections, she gradually transforms Michelle from a prickly, irritating woman to someone understandable, even likeable.

(The third in a series of six short takes on the 2002 Sydney Film Festival - see also The Inside Story, Nobody Someday, Making Venus, The Slaughter Rule and Lost in La Mancha)

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originally posted: 07/05/02 15:44:57
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2002 Seattle Film Festival. For more in the 2002 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/17/16 brian For the man-hater in us all. 3 stars
1/17/09 Shaun Wallner Wonderful story. 5 stars
5/13/05 Indrid Cold Touchy-feely chick flick, nothing we haven't seen before. 3 stars
4/28/05 Jeff Anderson It certainly is! Bright, knowing & brilliant. Catherine Keener is ABSOLUTELY TERRIFIC! 5 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt The film is quite simply, lovely and amazing! Funny and touching! Keener is WONDERFULL! 5 stars
11/27/03 Wendy Sue these people are unnervingly pitiful; no ending, no closure 2 stars
5/01/03 Andrew Carden Raven Goodwin Is Deserving Of An Oscar-Nod, Film Is Just GOOD Though. 4 stars
1/15/03 reloman this movie *defines* total chick flick. 2 stars
1/05/03 TheBomb69 wanted to like it more, too many plotholes left open, boring 2 stars
12/08/02 Phil M. Aficionado Strong, honest, slice of life. I could have used more resolution, but that's life, right? 4 stars
11/26/02 BCFD This movie is like the pilot for a sitcom that never got picked up. 1 stars
8/22/02 wintermute Dull and Uninteresting 2 stars
8/11/02 Suzz good film concerning women's identity issues 4 stars
7/02/02 Lorene Mendoza Real issues dealing with the adversities in a womanís life. Honest and Clear-Cut! 5 stars
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