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Lovely & Amazing

Lovely & Amazing

Nicole Holofcener's latest film Lovely & Amazing didn't take as long to make as her first one, Walking & Talking which starred Catherine Keener and Anne Heche as friends turning 30 while seeing their relationship moving in a new direction.

Keener is one of the stars of an ensemble featuring Brenda Blethyn ("Saving Grace") and Emily Mortimer (Disney's The Kid) where the director and writer looks truthfully into a neurotic family.

The target audience may be the same as Calle Khouri's The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood with less gloss around the characters whose psyches make for good analysis by Holofcener who embraces her thespians.

As played by Blethyn, Jane Marks is the matriarch looking for liposuction treatment from her physician (Michael Nouri).  Besides Jane, her daughters have issues with their own personal appearance which haven't brought much joy into their lives.

The storytelling offers ample time for these women, especially older daughters, Keener's Michelle, and Mortimer's Elizabeth.  The youngest is adopted by the well-off Jane with Annie dealing with trying to understand herself as an eight-year-old black girl.

Holofcener's tale shows how the Marks family is affected by problems occurring during Jane's out-patient treatment.

Keener (Death to Smoochy) fills Michelle, a married artist, with an icy reserve and her unhealthy marriage leads to a job at a one-hour photo shop with the teenage Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal).  When her mother asks her to watch Annie, Michelle's more brittle side emerges.

The other older sister is more receptive and the fragile actress in the lanky Elizabeth (Mortimer) isn't going through the best of times with beau Paul done by a low-key James LeGros of Scotland, Pa.  He's not pleased with her vulnerability to stray dogs and their care. Lovely & Amazing works toward a revealing scene with cocky actor Nick McCabe, an amusing Dermot Mulroney (My Best Friend's Wedding) that encapsulates the importance of her sex appeal with an audition on the horizon.

In terms of handling mood shifts and emotional haranguing, there's nothing prosaic in the chaotic, but quietly affecting portrait filmed digitally that has elements of wit and pathos sensitive to lives of bitterness and confusion.

Lovely & Amazing

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