Duane S. (superpoet) from FORT WORTH, TX Reviewed on 7/3/2008...
This is a relationship/chick movie. It follows the lives of 2 sisters, their mom, and their adopted black sister. It is disturbing in parts as when the sister asks why she doesn't need sun block. They tell her "she's already brown." This movie is called an alternative "sex and the city" movie. One of the sisters has a one night stand with a 17 yr. old. The mother goes in for liposuction and nearly dies.
The Marks Women
MICHAEL ACUNA | Southern California United States | 07/03/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Nicole Holfcener's "Lovely and Amazing" is not all lovely and amazing but it certainly is pretty and unique. I think the film's success or failure depends largely on how you perceive/like/tolerate/love/hate Catherine Keener; for she is the kingpin and the do or die of this movie.
On the negative side, Catherine Keener-wise, she has pretty much been playing the same role for the last ten years: super smart, a bit needy, marginally successful, and sometimes strident. And she exhibits many of these traits in the role of eldest daughter Michelle Marks, daughter of Jane (Brenda Blethyn) and older sister of Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer).
On the positive side, Keener has some rare for her quiet, dramatic scenes that she handles with aplomb. These scenes mostly involve her mother and her stepsister and they are refreshing in that Keener is allowed to show her softer, vulnerable side. She also has some hilarious, loopy, smartly written and directed scenes with Jake Gyllenhaal as her erstwhile and amorous "boyfriend."
"Lovely and Amazing" follows the lives and loves, the ups and the downs of the Marks women in their various quests for boyfriends, flatter tummies, fulfilling jobs, etc.
Holcener has infused the film with humor and a slightly off-center wit that carry the film along at a fast clip but she also knows how and when to slow down the pace and get serious. There are many touching scenes such as the one between Elizabeth and Kevin McCabe (Dermot Mulroney) in which she asks him to assess her naked body because, like most of us, she has body issues. He reacts by pointing out the mostly good as well as the not so bad. He calls the incident "refreshing" and indeed it is in an astringent, gee-she's-really naked-for-three-minutes kind of way. Heretofore, McCabe, an actor and closet good guy has been painted as a jerk but Elizabeth obviously sees something we don't and proves to be right.
"Lovely and Amazing" is a rare breed of film: one that can make you laugh and then laugh harder. It touches not only your heart but your soul as well."
Sensitive film with as much to say to men as to women
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 11/29/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"LOVELY & AMAZING is just what this beautiful little film is. Though the main characters are all bruised women - wannabe actress, flailing crafts-maker housewife, adopted African American 8 year old who grapples with obesity/skin color/genetic parent memories, and the mother of all three of these who places her 'embarassingly aging body' in the hands of a plastic surgeon - the etiology of thier dysfunction is tightly joined to their questionable ability to interact with men. The men range from a womanizing husband, an insensitive lover, an 'unavailable' doctor who begin the path toward the women's testing their needs and fears with movie stars and adolescents. In the hands of a lesser writer/director this could be corny, but with Nicole Holofcener's skill she creates plausible people and situations that are the perfect blend of comedy with tragedy. The cast is outstanding: Brenda Blethyn's mother demonstrates once again how versatile this actress truly is, Catherine Keener and Emily Mortimer and Raven Goodwin give us fully realised characters and the contributions of the "good guys" Jake Gyllenhall and Dermot Mulroney really bring heart to the story. The remainder of the cast is uniformly strong. Some people are classifying this as a "Chick Flick", but speaking as a man I think there is much to be learned about the frailties and strengths of women and the concurrent availability of worthwhile men available to them if each can swim past the social and emotional barricades we learn and see the lovely and amazing aspects of the individual heart."
Wonderful and Irritating
Richard Wells | Seattle, WA USA | 08/13/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Lovely and Amazing," is a wonderful and irritating little film. To paraphrase Pogo, "We have met the characters and they are us." All the leads in this movie are self-absorbed to the point of audience exhaustion, but at the same time they are all, somehow, likable. They are us, because they are more than us. The filmmakers have held a mirror to nature, and though the image is distorted because it is larger than life, I'd be surprised if every viewer did not find some part of themselves in anyone of the characters. Many of the laughs are generated in moments of audience recognition. The style is naturalistic, and there were scenes in which I felt like a total voyeur. - uncomfortable but strangely attracted. The actors, without exception, inhabit their roles, and bring truth to their characterizations. A good summer movie with more on its mind than most. Recommended."
The title describes the film!!!
Mark Twain | 04/13/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The four females in "Lovely & Amazing" look at themselves through a self-cracked mirror. Jane (Brenda Blethyn) is a well-off woman in her 50s who cares enough about others to adopt Annie (Raven Goodwin), an 8-year-old African-American girl whose birth mother is a crack addict. Jane also cares enough about herself to sign up for cosmetic surgery ($10,000 a pop and no insurance) to remove 10 pounds from her midriff.Along with Annie, Jane has two adult daughters. The older one, Michelle (Catherine Keener), is a former homecoming queen who has turned into a childish, self-centered neurotic. Though Michelle's husband constantly prods her to get a job, she fancies herself an artist. She makes miniature chairs to sell to knickknack shops, but no one's buying. Michelle's younger sister, Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer), is a beautiful aspiring actress who's already landing some small movie roles. But she has such a distorted self-image that she thinks of herself as unattractive -- even as she's posing for a photo spread in Vogue. Asked to do a "chemistry" audition with a big star named Kevin McCabe (Dermot Mulroney), she's forced to listen while casting agents casually appraise her sexuality -- or lack thereof.Both sisters are stuck in unfulfilling relationships. Elizabeth's overcritical live-in boyfriend is tired of hearing her obsess about her auditions, her resume photos, her agent, etc. Meanwhile, Michelle's sullen self-absorption and testy attitude have worn down her husband to the point that he's not especially interested in sleeping with her. To spite him, she takes a menial job at a one-hour photo shop, where her teenage boss (Jake Gyllenhaal) takes a Mrs. Robinson-like interest in her.As she proved in her fine 1996 film, "Walking and Talking," director Holofcener has an uncanny understanding of people as well as a gift for sharp, funny dialogue. Yes, "Lovely & Amazing" will probably spawn noxiously shallow lifestyle pieces on why women have poor self-esteem. But the film is much subtler and more complex than that. The entire cast is terrific, from Goodwin to Mulroney. But you have to focus on Keener, perhaps best known for her role as the merciless co-worker of John Cusack in "Being John Malkovich," who's become the Queen of Late Summer. She's creating her own type -- the acerbic smarts and ironic world-view of wisecracking dames like Rosalind Russell or "Frasier's" Peri Gilpin, with a twist of simmering anger and a drop of self-loathing. As vulnerable as she is venomous, she doesn't want to be the way she is, but she can't quite give it up, either. Deftly directed, winningly acted and shrewdly written, "Lovely & Amazing" is as softhearted as it is ruthless, as amusing as it is poignant, but it does have its faults. Mostly, it doesn't offer a lovely and amazing final resolution, one reason why I wish it went on longer. It's an engrossing and emotional film that every woman (and gay man) should see."
A smart, responsible take on dysfunctional women.
Samuel McKewon | Lincoln, NE | 04/17/2003
(3 out of 5 stars)
""Lovely and Amazing" is much of what "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" never was. It's about real women, women who make their own beds and lie in them, instead of having one disaster after another thrust upon to make their life miserable. It's about choices; a movie is usually far more exciting when a character makes decisions, instead of having the obvious thrown in their face. Eepecially good is Catherine Keener as a housewife entirely of bereft of ambition outside of erecting her worthless wooden crafts, which she insists on trying to sell for outrageous sums to unsmiling art dealers. Keener -- by choice, I suppose -- has shoehorned herself into playing the square peg in the round hole -- a sardonic, mouthy type who knows and thinks more than her position in life would indicate. There are two other sisters; One a shallow, insecure actress (Emily Mortimer) with a soft spot for stray animals, and the other an adopted 10-year-old black girl who's eaten too much fast food, has anger issues, and can hold her breath underwater a dangerously long time. Their mother is a fading beauty in her late fifties (Brenda Belthyn) heading in for plastic surgery. Visually, "Lovely and Amazing" is a little flat, which is fine for a talky, ruminating movie. Writer/director Nicole Hofencofer does a nice spoof on Hollywood agents and television hunks; one in particular, played by Dermot Mulroney, is more than interested in Mortimer's character outside of the audition room, even if they look like groping, suckfaced fools on the casting couch. Running through the two older sisters is a streak of self-torture -- Keener seems to like brawling with snobbish store owners, while Mortimer relishes the opportunity to have a man point out her physical flaws -- while the young girl is just beginning to learn, in possibly unhealthy ways, how to negotiate her own demons. The movie seems to hint, in fact, that troubled years are ahead for all of them, especially for Keener, who finally gets a job at a photolab only to start an affair with the 17-year-old manager. Mortimer, on the other hand, get the sadistic wish of temporary disfigurement through canine intervention. Blethyn spends much of the movie in the hospital enduring complications from her surgery, so she isn't left much to do. And yet she uses the inflections in her voice in more than one interaction with her daughters to suggest her disappointment, even as she describes them as the movie's title, "lovely and amazing." It's a cute term of endearment, empty given the circumstances, although, given a better roll of the dice, we can see where these women might have been more."