30 January 2013 | secondtake
Funny, clever, warm. Westfeldt is amazing amazing.
Ira & Abby (2006)
What a special sweet film about two people who meet, fall in love (totally and instantly), and make a go of marriage.
Ira is played by Chris Messina who is disgruntled and ambitious, and he's really good at playing a mild and likable malcontent. He is going to therapy to find happiness, and getting nowhere.
Abby is played by Jennifer Westfeldt and she's a sensation, a total gem on screen, scintillating and in her warm oddball way, utterly lovable. She is the opposite, of course, as movies like this require, which means she has no ambition and is utterly happy all the time. She's so happy she infects Ira with happiness--how simple is that?--and the whole movie, as well. And the audience. It's a kind of wonder how it works on everything. In a bad mood? See this movie.
The best parts of the movie really show Abby's effect on Ira, on Ira's family, on strangers, and then, eventually, on herself as she has to face some unhappiness. An example scene will help--the couple are on the subway when a man with a gun sticks everyone up for money, maybe ten people. Abby sweetly (and without cornball excess, that's the wonder of it) asks him how much he needs. She'll give it to him. He's gradually mollified as she goes around collecting money from the other passengers and gets what he needs. He's suddenly willing to take a little less (this is the comedy, of course) and you see how in some bubble reality this kind of kindness might actually work. (She discovers him later with a job, and you sense that she saved him somehow by giving him that bit of sunshine.)
Okay, you might wonder how to build a whole movie on this. Well, there are complications with the parents, who have various kinds of relationship problems themselves. No clues here. Eventually it's a comic can of worms and all very fun. Perfect? No, but excellent overall. I could watch it again, which says a lot for this kind of lightweight fare. Westfeldt deserves it.