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dir-scr Nicole Holofcener
prd Stefanie Azpiazu, Anthony Bregman
with Julia Louis-Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Catherine Keener, Toni Collette, Ben Falcone, Tavi Gevinson, Tracey Fairaway, Eve Hewson, Toby Huss, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, Kathleen Rose Perkins, Ivy Strohmaier
release US 18.Sep.13, UK 18.Oct.13
13/US Fox 1h33
Odd couple: Gandolfini and Louis-Dreyfus
TORONTO FILM FEST
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E|
With her usual style of off-handed honesty, writer-director Holofcener gives the rom-com formula a welcome grown-up twist. And even if the story is somewhat simple, the characters bring out layers of insight in every scene. It's smart and often very funny, with brittle, flawed people we can easily identify with.
Eva (Louis-Dreyfus) is a masseuse who's getting tired of her annoying clients. Then she meets Marianne (Keener), who's seems almost too nice and smart, so they become friends outside Eva's work. At the same time, Eva meets Albert (Gandolfini), an unlikely suitor who wins her over with his dry wit and comfortable warmth. And both have daughters (Fairaway and Hewson, respectively) who are heading off to university soon. Then just as she's beginning to feel confident about this new friend and boyfriend, Eva discovers that Albert is the ex-husband Marianne is always complaining about.
These are such vividly written and played characters that we feel like we know them all. And we can easily see ourselves in them. Their interaction crackles with witty banter that's never too clever; the comedy feels organic and often improvised. Of course, Louis-Dreyfus seems able to do this kind of thing effortlessly, playing hilariously awkward encounter with perfect timing. But the role pushes her into some emotional areas as well.
In one his final leading role, the late Gandolfini proves surprisingly adept at romantic-comedy. Physically, Albert is an unlikely partner for the tiny Eva, but their scenes are so nicely played that we begin to see them as a perfect match. And around them, Keener provides spiky blasts of dry humour, while Collette and Falcone (as Eva's best friends) shine in rather goofier roles that are just as grounded.
Holofcener creates an atmosphere that's so relaxed that we can't help but join in with the characters as they work out their issues. As in most of our lives, these situations bristle with both clumsiness and warm humour, as everyone navigates the twisty path toward happiness, taking some bad missteps along the way. And perhaps the trick to making it through is to keep looking forward without forgetting that the past wasn't all bad.
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© 2013 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall|
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