Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2013. Fox Searchlight Pictures, Likely Story. Screenplay by Nicole Holofcener. Cinematography by Xavier Grobet. Produced by Stefanie Azpiazum, Anthony Bregman. Music by Marcelo Zarvos. Production Design by Keith P. Cunningham. Costume Design by Leah Katznelson. Film Editing by Robert Frazen. Golden Globe Awards 2013. Independent Spirit Awards 2013. Toronto International Film Festival 2013. Washington Film Critics Awards 2013.
There’s no stopping Julia Louis-Dreyfus, here giving a fluidly perfect performance after years of having such exceptional success on television, and there’s no preventing Nicole Holofcener from making witty and insightful films about contemporary women. Louis-Dreyfus plays a divorced masseuse who is dealing with an impending empty nest given that her daughter is preparing to go away for college. While attending a party with her married, constantly bickering friends (Toni Collette, Ben Falcone), she meets James Gandolfini and, despite not finding him attractive, she recognizes a rapport between them and agrees to go to dinner. At the same party Louis-Dreyfus also meets and makes a client of a charismatic and slightly haughty poet (Catherine Keener) with whom she begins to spend time. Meanwhile, at home her daughter (Tracey Fairaway) becomes frustrated with the fact that her detaching from the home she is soon leaving and the youth to which she will never return is coinciding with her mother’s increasing friendliness with her own best friend (blogger sensation Tavi Gevinson, showing exceptionally fine acting chops). The interactions between these characters and the complications that ensue have the touch of the sitcom from time to time, a perspective perhaps not aided by having a television star and her lightning-bolt comic reactions to move them along, but there’s no denying that when the film isn’t sailing on the charisma of its cast, it hits moments of poignancy and pain that resonate deeply. Another winner for this seemingly unfailing director.