3 October 2006 | Doylenf
Downbeat, depressing, truthful exploration of city dwellers...
Not exactly a cheerful slice of life in the big city, DESPERATE CHARACTERS does bring a certain truth to its story of two middle-aged New Yorkers who seem to be losers in a world where everyday daily life is a struggle to get through. It has nothing that hasn't been said before, particularly by writer/director Gilroy who already gave us more of the same in his THE SUBJECT WAS ROSES. And as compared to another slice of city life, like A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN, it suffers in comparison.
The trouble is the script which has all of the characters giving theatrical monologues revealing themselves in dialog that doesn't sound natural coming from these people. But SHIRLEY MacLAINE stands out among the cast with one of her better serious performances in a demanding role. She seems honest and real, despite some flowery dialog.
MacLaine herself dismissed the film as a failure in her autobiography, but it does have some holding power despite its downbeat effect.