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Lovely & Amazing

Starring: Catherine Keener, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Mortimer, Raven Goodwin, James LeGros, Clark Gregg, Dermot Mulroney, and Jake Gyllenhaal
Directed by: Nicole Holofcener
Catherine Keener Interview

DVD: 16x9 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital, Trailer, Cast and Cew Interviews, English and Spanich subtittles. Drama. 91 min. BUY THIS

Wow! What a phenomenal film. The cast delivers a subtle, yet mesmerizing, look at the complexities of everyday living and today's family units. The cast, Catherine Keener, Brenda Blethyn, Emily Mortimer and Raven Goodwin brilliantly deliver inpeccable performances in this touching warm and witty film. L&A is filmed on 24 frame high-definition video but director (and writer) Nicole Holofcener didn't let that take one stroke of genius away. The movie just shines.

The story follows a family that loves each other in spite of themselves. The mother (Brenda Blethyn) and her three daughters are modern snapshot of matter-of-fact American families of today. There's no father to be found, inner squabbling that really covers jealously and not the surface animosity one thinks and the love that manages to prevail bonding them regardless of their faults and erroneous choices they inevitably make once in a while.

Mom has decided to get liposuction for herself to boast her self-esteem. The girls go along with it and go on with their own lives as the procedure takes place.

Michelle (Catherine Keener) is having a mid-life crisis, a few years premature. She has no job, her husband won't have sex with her and her artwork is unloved, though lovely and amazing. She needs to make some changes. First on the list is getting a job. When she does she steps into a whole other side of the breakdown with horrible, self-degrading, affects. Poor kid.

Her sister actress Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer) is in a masochistic relationship with a guy (James LeGros) who passive-aggressively belittles her. She knows but doesn't yet know she knows. Elizabeth has a heart of gold; fool's gold but none-the- less gold. She "collects" stray dogs and gives them a home filled with misplaced love. She's dipping into the Freudian snuff to say the least and under her narcissistic shell she's on a journey to find herself.

The youngest sister Annie (Raven Goodwin) is adopted. She's much younger than her siblings and going through an awkward who-am-I- anyway stage. She acts up and often behaves like a brat. Well, like a kid, which she is. With her mom in the hospital and her eldest sister as babysitter, her shenanigans rise to a point of near tragic results.

The audience gets under the family's skin and sees all parts of the family. In the end the obvious love and affection they share prevails which was refreshing, because as anybody knows, you can hate and love your family at the same time!

The performances are incredible. Raven Goodwin is a child actor with grown up talents. Catherine Keener, as always, brings us a thoughtful quirky film. Brenda Blethyn mixed emotions like a smooth martini at Barfly. Emily Mortimer's self-loathing innocently facing the big bad world portrayal was pristine.

Writer/director Nicole Holofcener's film is sublime and brilliant. This summer is really turning out to be a "gal's Season" what with the equally brilliant Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood and Never Again with Jill Clayburgh in theaters; strong women in strong roles. Bravo!

They have cast James LeGros, Clark Gregg, Dermot Mulroney, and young buck Jake Gyllenhaal as the indie eye candy with tremendous acting abilties to boot. So Lovely and Amazing is also a manfest extravaganza people! Purrfect.

Find this film it's moving and entertaining, intelligent and real, witty and engulfing, but what else would you expect from Catherine Keener? Exactly! Enjoy!

Snack recommendation: McDonald's

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