Lovely & Amazing written and directed by Nicole Holofcener
Lovely & Amazing is…well, lovely, perhaps Amazing would be going too far, even if this little noticed motion picture has made it on The New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made, available here:
What makes this work even more remarkable is the fact that the protagonists are all women- even if there are some men involved in the plot, their weight is not important, when compared with the females in the narrative- furthermore, the feature is directed and written by another woman, announcing the age of the triumph of the beautiful sex, in an industry dominated by males.
Jane Marks aka Brenda Blethyn is the mother of three daughters, Emily Mortimer who plays Elizabeth, Raven Goodwin aka Annie and Catherine Keener as Michelle, all of them facing various issues.
The younger African American Annie, even if she is only eight years old, she is very determined and at one point decides to change her hair style- rather dramatically – and lies to the hairdresser and says that her mother knows her plan and has agreed with it
Mother Jane Marks decides to have what looks initially as an unobtrusive- well, not dangerous anyway – operation to get some of the extra weight – maybe one should opt for a lot instead of some – only to find that the intervention has really serious consequences.
The situation of the matriarch deteriorates to the point where her life is in danger, and in spite of that, it seems rather humorous when the doctors try to explain the confused family that is puzzled by the initial attitude- “you said it will be so easy”.
Elizabeth has a relationship that is unsatisfying, if we consider that her partner is rather unsupportive when she mentions her career projects, including a photo shoot that causes smiles as the breasts of the model show and she is very embarrassed by it.
There is another, better chance to launch the career, when an acting part is available and the unsecure Elizabeth tries the audition with some awkward, amusing results – if we do not insist on the embarrassing, rude, perhaps harassing even attitude of the actor that would be her partner in the film…
If she gets the part.
Dermot Mulroney is very good as the male partner in the feature, Kevin McCabe, the man who goes over the top- making some in the audience think of Weinstein Louis CK and some of the other former top dogs in an industry where men got the women on the infamous “casting couch” to abuse them.
Indeed, it feels amusing to some extent, but in the age of MeToo, it is also hard to watch
The weird thing with the actor Kevin McCabe is that, in front of other members of the team of the movie, starts to act in a mischievous way, mistreating Elizabeth- but it is not a clear-cut notion, for she is participating, it is for the feature and she appears to…respond.
The audience enjoys a rather peculiar mirth.
Kevin McCabe explains that he wants the film to look in a certain way and he wants this sort of passion between the man and woman in the characters and then starts to kiss the actress auditioning for the part, but it all looks like he is infatuated, attracted to her and she is by him, in turn.
Those others present in the room exchange knowing glances.
Elizabeth ends up in the bed of this unpredictable, energetic, outré, vibrant, passionate man who continues to act in a bizarre way.
The insecure woman – who compensates, tries to find emotional rewards, affection acceptance by rescuing abandoned dogs- tries to extract from her sex partner an accurate, truthful assessment of her body, poise, qualities and flaws.
Admittedly, Kevin McCabe is not determined to enter the game and make the honest expose required of him and he should have stopped right there, if he had known that he would be insulting.
It is also true that some might appreciate his openness, direct, critical, maybe well-intentioned assessment.
Only this can have disastrous results…
“Hell is paved with good intentions”
Instead of an admiring- or at the very least polite – reading of qualities, strong points, and attractive features – after all, this ridiculous male had just had sex with the woman! – He starts criticizing the teeth for not being lily white and other aspects of the partner who already had low self-esteem.
Instead of talking to this little monster, she should have tried the quintessential, archetypal The Six Pillars of Self Esteem by the legendary Nathaniel Brendan.
Again: Lovely and Amazing is lovely and in conclusion, many scenes are actually…Amazing.