Lovely & Amazing

By the time Lovely & Amazing finishes, not much has happened in terms of events, yet the audience feels like they truly know the women in the movie. Lovely & Amazing is about a family of four women; the mother and her three daughters. Each one is at the point in her life where she needs to begin making serious decisions about where her future lies. This is a quiet and strong film, presenting a realistic look at the lives of women, and is funny and poignant at the same time. A great ensemble cast led by Brenda Blethyn (Pumpkin, Saving Grace) as Jane Marks also helps add to the connection that the audience is able to feel with these characters. It's as if the viewer was watching real people, instead of people acting.

Jane is about to undergo liposuction. Her husband left a long time ago, and she only has her daughters. She also feels that her doctor (Michael Nouri, Finding Forrester, Carman: The Champion) is flirting with her. Her youngest daughter Annie (Raven Goodwin) is adopted. Jane dotes over her, spoiling Annie. Annie is overweight, and Jane is not doing anything to stop this potential problem. Jane's oldest daughter Michelle (Catherine Keener, Simpatico, Being John Malkovich) is most critical of this. Michelle is an artist, struggling to sell her work, and uncommunicative with her husband. Jane's middle daughter is Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer, Love's Labour's Lost, Disney's The Kid), a highly insecure struggling actress.

Michelle gets a job at a one-hour photo after succumbing to pressure from her husband. Her new boss Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal, Bubble Boy, Donnie Darko) is only a teenager, yet he is attracted to her. She returns her attraction out of frustration towards her husband. Jordan is willing to shower her with attention. It is probably also a test, to see how far she is willing to go. Elizabeth's neuroses are driving away her boyfriend Paul (James LeGros, World Traveler, Scotland, PA), who is not in the acting business so he cannot understand her constant attention to superficial things like what to wear. She has an audition with movie star Kevin McCabe (Dermot Mulroney, Trixie, Where the Money Is), a sleazy man who knows all the right words to feed Elizabeth's insecurities. They have the most memorable scene in Lovely & Amazing, where Elizabeth stands before Kevin au naturel and asks him to point out everything that is wrong with her. Annie is doing everything she can to rebel against her mother and sisters.

Although writer/director Nicole Holofcener (Walking and Talking, Angry) has a lot of angst in the script, there is also an underlying feeling of love amongst this family. Each of these women is willing to drop whatever she is doing to help another, although each is also too proud to ask for help. Each person is also incredibly lonely, and reaching out to different people to try to make some sort of connection. The depth and range that Blethyn, Mortimer, and Keener bring to their roles brings a sense of realism to the roles. It also helps that each seems to be playing to their strengths. Keener plays a variation of her usual, acerbic and angry character, this time adding a hint of depression to the mix. This is probably Mortimer's most substantial role to date, and she capably handles the complex (some would say close to insane) emotions that Elizabeth goes through.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Good.
1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated R for language and nudity.

Back to Movies