There really isn't anything wrong with this movie that a better screenwriter couldn't have fixed with a little tweaking. I just don't think Jenkins (Slums of Beverly Hills) is that great of a writer. For starters, the Laura Linney character is so incredibly annoying that it kept distracting me from enjoying the movie. I know that this film is somewhat autobiographical so maybe Jenkins was being too hard on herself in the creation of the Linney character? This is why I think a second neutral writer in the editing process would have helped this movie a lot.
I also think that Jenkins was going for a dark comedy but instead ended up with a straight-up drama with an occasional funny bit. However the one scene where Jenkins fully succeeds on this front is the scene where Linney and Hoffman are arguing with each other in the parking lot of an upscale nursing home. An amazing scene.
All that being said, the movie is pretty good anyway. The story about a brother and sister with an uneasy relationship who have to team up to help their dementia suffering father who they haven't seen in years is an interesting one. Philip Seymour Hoffman, per usual, gives an excellent performance. I also really liked the interplay Linney had with her married boyfriend as well as with the male worker at the nursing home. Plus, the ending is really nice and sweet so you leave the theater feeling a lot happier than you were during most of the movie. It is difficult to pull off such a nice ending after such turmoil and have it feel as genuine as it does.
On a sidenote, this was the third movie I saw in the second half of 2007 where the picture was way way way too dark due to a screwup by the theater. What's up with that?
Directed by Tamara Jenkins
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