June 2002
Lovely & Amazing

Reviewed by Wilson Morales

Lovely & Amazing

Distributor:Lions Gate
Director:Nicole Holofcener
Screenwriter:Nicole Holofcener
Producers: Anthony Bregman, Eric d’Arbeloff, & Ted Hope
Cast:Catherine Keener, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Mortimer, Dermot Mulroney, Aunjanue Ellis and introducing Raven Goodwin as Annie Marks.

Nicole Holofcener has a knack for telling stories from the female perspective. In her first film, “Walking & Talking”, she told the tale of how two best friends relate with each other when one is getting deeply involved with her boyfriend and spends less time with the other. That film was amusing and well received. In her latest film “Lovely & Amazing”, Holofcener once again explores the dynamics of female insecurity but this time from a personal and bodily aspect. It’s an engaging, thought-provoking film that many females will probably relate to in some ways.

Jane Marks (Blethyn) is a middle-aged woman who worries about her figure. She has three daughters who are totally different from each other. Michelle (Keener), the oldest one, had the most promise to go somewhere when she became homecoming queen as a teenager but finds herself unemployed and in a loveless marriage. Elizabeth (Mortimer), an aspiring actress, feels her body is not up to par when she’s turned down for a role in a movie and African-American 8-year old Annie (Goodwin), Jane’s adopted daughter, eats all the time and innocently goes through puberty. When Jane goes in the hospital for liposuction, Michelle and Elizabeth struggle to take care of themselves as well as Annie. Michelle, never having worked a day, finally gets a job at a photo shop and has a “graduate” affair with her teenage boss Jordon (Jake Gyllenhaal). Michelle, feeling depressed after losing a role in a film, dumps her boyfriend and goes out with a TV star (Mulroney). When Lorraine (Ellis), Annie’s “Big Sister” can’t handle the child, Annie does anything to attract attention.

In this character driven film, Holofcener has written a very sweet, serious, and at times funny film that’s worth recommending. All of the actors are terrific. Keener shows range in her character as she finally succumbs to the fact that she finally has to “grow up”. Mortimer is very bold especially in her eye-popping and revealing scene she has with Mulroney. Goodwin is amazing as the 8-yr old. Some might say that the actress is too old to play the role because she acts with so much intelligence for such a young character, but this actress captures the film with her attention-grabbing scenes. The one flaw one may see in this film is that the issue of race is fully examined in relation to Annie. It’s brought up, but not developed enough. There are a lot of deeper issues in this film that most films don’t focus and it’s a credit to Holofcener that she brings it out. Some scenes may be played for laughs, but underneath lies an insightful look at the female point of view towards herself and life.


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