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Lovely and Amazing

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
Lovely and Amazing
from Film Forum, 08/01/02

The stream of low-profile "art films" is increasing as we head towards fall. Soon the big Oscar-begging dramas will start popping up. (Some argue that the first big "Fall movie" actually opened in June: Road to Perdition.)

Critics are praising writer/director Nicole Holofcener's Lovely and Amazingand its talented cast, which includes Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich) and Brenda Blethyn (Secrets and Lies). The film follows Michelle (Keener) as she struggles in a troubled marriage and then plunges headlong into an affair with her adolescent boss. The self-absorption and poor self-image of Michelle and her two sisters stem from the similarly flawed perspective of their mother (Blethyn), and the film explores this surface tension—reportedly with little insight.

J. Robert Parks (The Phantom Tollbooth) says the film contains its own criticism. "Once Lovely and Amazing has established [its] characters and their damaged relationships, the movie doesn't know what to do with them. Instead of moving forward or backwards, the script just gives us more of the same. With such an outstanding cast, it's no surprise that the acting is top-notch. Lovely and Amazing starts off well and then loses its way."

The USCCB's critic writes, "Holofcener asks how children—biological or not—deal with and internalize their parents qualities and fixations. Can similar obsessions dominate a family? The film is mostly engaging as it deconstructs American women's insecurities in general, and in particular their anxious attitude about body weight. Yet Holofcener's light touch remains superficial, rarely delving deeply into the psychological or emotional depths that such issues can withstand. And as the characters make attempts to improve their lives, their choices and behavior can be off-putting."