Lovely and Amazing

Director: Nicole Holofcener

In her excellent first feature, Walking and Talking (1997), writer-director Nicole Holofcener established herself as a fresh and witty talent with a sharp appreciation of female fears and longings. A truly independent spirit, Holofcener’s eccentric characters, loose narrative style, plain visuals and blunt dialogue place her work at some distance from the Hollywood mainstream, despite its accessibility and good humour. All of which may explain why it’s taken five years for the director’s second feature to arrive on screen. Happily, Lovely and Amazing proves well worth the wait.
If Walking and Talking focused on female friendship , the new film looks at a family of women and their sometimes sad but often funny hang-ups. Brenda Blethyn plays Jane Marks, a wealthy widow who has two mature daughters and a young, adopted black girl. The eldest daughter, Michelle (the wonderful Catherine Keener), is trying to escape from a pointless marriage and tries to compensate for her lack of real employment by making miniature art-works that nobody wants to buy. Her younger sister Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer) is a struggling actress who is obsessed with the notion that her body’s imperfections (she is, of course, very beautiful) will jeopardise a career in show-biz.
Holofcener’s women are intelligent and amusing, and their mistakes and fears strike a chord because they are clearly grounded in real experience. Her characters may be self-obsessed, but they also have a sense of humour and can acknowledge that some of the absurd predicaments they find themselves in are largely of their own making. A good example is provided in Lovely and Amazing by Michelle’s dalliance with a 17-year-old kid, which culminates in her arrest for raping a minor. More provocative still is an extraordinary scene where Elizabeth stands stark naked in front of a new lover and insists that he provide a truthful and honest assessment of her body.
U.S.A., 2001. Colour. Dolby digital stereo. 90 mins.

Book Tickets