26 July 2001 | taylor9885
no. not as good as The Big Chill...
...but well worth seeing. The digital camerawork was very well done, suggesting there is a future for this technology. The film's style seems to depend on Robert Altman's Seventies' films ("Three Women," "A Wedding," "Nashville"), where plot elements are treated with more or less equal weight.
The pluses: Jennifer Jason Leigh comes into her own as an actress. The affectations that made me walk out of "Mrs. Parker" and "Georgia" are gone, she's just concerned with telling the story here. Kevin Kline, Jennifer Beals and Gwyneth Paltrow are all wonderful, especially Beals, whom I feared was condemned to made-for-TV hell. Alan Cumming seems to struggle with his role; I just didn't see him possessing the gravitas to be an esteemed novelist chosen to direct a film, but he is always interesting to watch.
The minuses: those awful friends and neighbours. Whining, back-biting, jealous, passive-agressive, tiresome people--the Adamses, Forsyths and Roses. Were they inserted into the movie because independent productions need a lot of "color" or just because they're friends of the filmmakers? I hope I never see Jane Adams play a more cartoonish, over-the-top character as Claire Forsyth. I could understand her husband trying to drown in the pool after living with her.
The self-referential nature of the story is irksome. Hollywood's problems concern only those who work there, not us. If that Julia Roberts vehicle, "Notting Hill," told us far more than we wanted to know about the perils of stardom, Cumming and Leigh have not learned the lesson, even though their film breathes some fresher and more passionate air.