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Lovely & Amazing (2001)

Cast: Catherine Keener, Catherine Keener, Brenda Blethyn, more...
Director: Nicole Holofcener, Nicole Holofcener
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Rating:
Studio: Lions Gate
Genre: Independent
Running Time: 91 min.
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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Synopsis
Nicole Holofcener, writer/director of the critically acclaimed Walking and Talking, shifts her focus from New York to Los Angeles for her second feature, Lovely & Amazing. Jane Marks (Brenda Blethyn of Secrets and Lies) is a middle-aged woman who's about to undergo liposuction. She has three daughters. Michelle (Catherine Keener) is a cynical, self-involved, would-be artist in an unhappy marriage. Elizabeth is a struggling actress who constantly takes in stray dogs. Her insecurities about her attractiveness come to the fore when she blows a screen test with a big movie star, Kevin (Dermot Mulroney). The youngest of the Marks sisters, Annie (Raven Goodwin), is an overweight eight-year-old African-American girl whose birth mother was an addict. Jane has adopted Annie, and is determined to provide her with a better life. Jane has a crush on her suave surgeon (Michael Nouri of Flashdance), but her family is thrown into chaos when complications arise during her outpatient procedure, and she's forced to stay in the hospital. Michelle, pressured by her husband (Clark Gregg) to take some financial responsibility for raising their young daughter, eventually gets a part-time job working in a one-hour photo booth, where she meets Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a misfit teen who awkwardly flirts with her. Elizabeth's boyfriend, Paul (James LeGros), who seems to disapprove of the entertainment industry, leaves her. Annie eats compulsively and misbehaves. When the family is faced with a series of crises, relationship patterns that had solidified over the years subtly begin to change. A festival favorite, Lovely & Amazing has been shown at the 2001 Telluride Film Festival, the 2001 Toronto International Film Festival, and the 2002 Tribeca Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, All Movie Guide

You might also enjoy:
Walking and Talking
Holofcener's first feature also starred Keener and is every bit as good; a bit lighter, too

Saving Grace
Check out Brenda Blethyn as a pot-growing widow in this sweet, funny British comedy

The Kid
It's fun to see the engaging Emily Mortimer in a very different type of film


GreenCine Member Reviews

"Our life is shaped by our mind," the Buddha tells us by RRappuhn August 27, 2004 - 12:28 PM PDT
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2 out of 3 members found this review helpful
First off, with my low rating you would think that I did not like the film, I actually did. I enjoyed the clarity and the consistency of character in the performances, I enjoyed some of the situations (Michelle getting popped in her car for satuatory rape of 'Donnie Darko' his mother ratted her out') and some of the dialogue.

While the characters are protrayed well and the acting is believable, who really gives one damn for any of them??? I just found each and every character, except for Micheal Nouri and the photo shop boss ( cannot remember his name, but was central character in Donnie Darko ) and perhaps Annie, the little sister ( and believe me, she grew very tiresome very, very quickly, oh but the gravity in her expression ), banal, shallow, self-centered and self-serving, and completely without interest and especially in the case of 'Michelle' just outright mean spirited. So the rating is for the subject matter rather than the film; if you like the subjects and the matter, give it a 7 but if you want to watch it for some characters worthy of admiration, and if this is an example of humanity in a finer moment, an example of what one lives through and for each and every day and what one could aspire to???... ugh and why bother?; but then hell, I give 'Sid and Nancy' a 9, huh??? maybe Sid and Nancy are extremes and these folks are shown as the 'standard stock'
Second, I found the GreenCine synopsis way off; for instance this description of Michelle, '...is the eldest sister. She is an artist that makes tiny chairs out of twigs and moss, but cannot seem to find a market for them. Her husband, who grows more distant daily, nags her to get a real job...' First part true, watch her as she gets 'pissed' because store owners seem disinterested in her work, as if her work is so good that they are clods not to accept it; I saw her and her cutting and insulting remarks to her husband as off-putting and certainly one of reason for him to keep the distance, but she seemed to see no connection between her actions and status of the relationship.

'Her sister Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer), an actress, struggles to overcome insecurities about her looks and has a bad habit of collecting stray dogs' Ok, her sister has insecurities and this leads to an interesting scene with her new bed fellow, but she really 'takes' un-attended dogs, not rescues them; and got the benifit of her taking instead of rescuing, with a nice little nip on her upper lip at her last attempt.

'Jane (Brenda Blethlyn), their mother, is loving but self-centered, and she is hospitalized throughout the film because of a botched liposuction surgery..' Perhaps I missed a scene, but I remember the doctor's statement, 'there are sometimes expected complications', rather than a 'botched surgery' as the reason for the extended hospital stay

And I have no idea what this means...
Writer/Director Nicole Holofcener (WALKING AND TALKING) imbues the film with an unflinching frankness, banking hard situations and discouraging pitfalls against the stability of this closely-knit middle-class family. No matter how horrible life seems, the family is there as an indestructible safety net. market for them....' Petty, cruddy people bemoaning the situations of their lives, those that they created themselves; "Our life is shaped by our mind," the Buddha tells us"???

What to make of it instead of the description in the synopsis??? see 1st paragraph.

strives for lovely, not really amazing by maritoni August 7, 2003 - 1:10 PM PDT
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2 out of 4 members found this review helpful
an interesting attempt to look at family dysfunction that doesn't quite succeed.

though i appreciate the skills and performances of each of the main actresses, i couldn't help feeling that the film was incomplete somehow. the characters as written all bordered on being charicatures and lacked a depth that i wanted to see come through. the humor faltered somewhere between dark and fluffy.

there are some nice moments like the post-coital scene between mulrooney and mortimer (which another reviewer mentions) and a sweet scene between keener and goodwin at mcdonalds.

after beating you down throughout the film with a sort of depressing futility, it suddenly ends with a quiet hopefulness that yeah, this is my family, it's what i've got and i'm sticking to it...

Comical but dark look at insecurity by BChiles April 16, 2003 - 4:58 PM PDT
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5 out of 7 members found this review helpful
I enjoyed this rather dark yet often comical observation of the way a mother, her two grown daughters and adopted daughter manifest the insecurity she has passed on to them. The cast is talented & attractive. Standouts are Catherine Keener as the self-loathing, bitter, wise-cracking eldest daughter and Raven Goodwin as the blunt spoken attention seeking adopted daughter. There's a post-coital scene between Dermot Mulroney and Emily Mortimer that has to be seen to be believed.

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GreenCine Member Rating
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(Average 6.26)
217 Votes
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