Lovely & Amazing
(Click here for Internet Movie Database entry)

      I’ve always had a bit of a thing for Catherine Keener.  She is lovely and amazing.  She is a great actress and eschews Hollywood pictures, making Indie movies almost exclusively.   So, it pained me to see her not so lovely and amazing in Full Frontal.  There are no such problems watching her in Lovely & Amazing.  It is a very sweet little film and Keener plays a nice role which is a little bit against type.  The plot revolves around a mother (Brenda Blethyn) and her three daughters (Catherine Keener, Emily Mortimer, Raven Goodwin).  Blethyn is having liposuction surgery while her two grown-up daughters are, well,  a bit screwed up.  Keener plays an artist who has never sold anything whose marriage is falling apart.  Mortimer is an actress who is about to become a star. Both sisters have huge self-esteem problems.  The third daughter, Goodwin, has different problems.  She is 8 years old, adopted, black and has an attitude. Mortimer is breaking up with her  boyfriend (James LeGros) and being pursued by an actor interested in becoming her boyfriend (Dermot Mulroney).  Keener decides to look for work for the first time in her life at 40 and gets a job at a one-hour photo, working for a 17-year old (Jake Gyllenhaal).  He develops a crush on Keener and so this film joins the growing list of older-woman younger-man films this year like Tadpole and The Good Girl (also with Gyllenhaal as the younger man). 

     Like I said, Lovely & Amazing is a sweet little film.  It is written and directed by Nicole Holocener.  She has an adopted brother who is black.  Maybe this is why this film rings so true and works so well.  Another reason is the cast made up of  Indie stalwarts like Keener, Mulroney, Blethyn and LeGros as well as newcomers Mortimer, Gyllenhaal and Goodwin.  Mulroney is married to Keener in real life.  (Do actors have real lives?).   Keener (Being John Malkovich) and Blethyn (Secrets & Lies,  Little Voice) have Oscar nominations.  Strangely, Blethyn’s character in Secrets & Lies also deals with having a black daughter. Goodwin does a great job with this part in her first film.  Gyllenhaal who made a splash with October Sky is goofy but good here. Everyone in the cast is wonderful in Lovely & Amazing.  

Nothing too earth shattering happens in Lovely & Amazing but the mother and her grown-up daughters make some progress towards taking control of their lives and getting a grip on their low self-esteem.  The youngest  daughter is just trying to get noticed with among all the strange screwed-up white women in her family.  And it’s fun to watch.  It took a while for this film to arrive in my neck of the woods but if it’s still playing where you are, go and see it.