Lovely and Amazing (6/10)

 Copyright © 2003 by Tony Medley


 Lovely and Amazing is the story of the neurotic Marks family, mother Jane (Brenda Blethyn), her two natural daughters, Michelle (Catherine Keener) and Emily (Elizabeth Mortimer), and an adopted daughter, Annie (Raven Goodwin).  All these women have problems.  Jane is bringing up Annie but is lonely and wants a man.  Michelle, the oldest daughter, is a neophyte artist in a loveless marriage.  Emily is a fledgling actress involved in an affair of unrequited love.

 This is the quintessential chick flick with the two key elements: lots of talk, and the guys in the primary relationships are unfeeling, unsympathetic jerks.  The relationships among the sisters and their mother are troubled.  I canít imagine why a guy would go to this movie.  That is, unless he talks to me or some other guy who has seen it.  Because itís one of the best films Iíve seen this year.

 The acting is uniformly superb.  Itís difficult to pick one who stands out, although Raven Goodwin, who plays Annie, a chubby African-American eight-year old in a world of skinny white people, is exceptional.  Her reaction when Michelle tells her some of her problems is priceless.

 Theyíre all skinny, that is, except for adoptive mother Jane who is going in for liposuction and develops a crush on her handsome plastic surgeon, Dr. Crane (Michael Nouri), who blends his professional concern for Jane with his lack of romantic interest perfectly. 

 Writer-Director Nicole Holofcener adroitly creates a family about whom we care.  Each woman deals with her problems and insecurities in her own way, and each seems true to life.

 There is a sequence of full frontal nudity as the beautiful but insecure Emily asks her paramour, famous actor Kevin McCabe (Dermott Mulroney), to critique her body.  Call me crazy; I liked it.  But itís not gratuitous.  Itís in context and makes perfect sense.

 This is a little movie peopled by actors who are not famous or even widely known.  But it is well written, deftly directed, and has few flaws.  The opening sequence of Michelle trying to sell some of her silly art pieces to a retail store immediately grabs your interest and it does not wane.  This is a film that is real to life, captivating, and, above all, entertaining for everyone, not just chicks.

 The End