Saturday, September 7
Directed by Anne Fontaine
1 hour 40 minutes
From Exclusive Releasing
If you're on the lookout for a really good movie about two, longtime female friends with two hunky sons and each son winding up sleeping with the other's mother, this is not it. Well, um, I mean they do sleep with one another, alright; it's just that it's not really all that good.
Two Australian mothers, who have been best friends since they were wee little ones and who as nextdoor neighbors still see one another every day, each take that leap and have a sexual relationship with the other's 19 or 20-year old sons. In each case the boys, who are also good friends, come on to the mothers and the resistance is nil.
One woman's husband has just died but the other one is married as her affair begins. They all live on a cliff overlooking a beautiful sea where the boys surf and the mothers drink and laugh and stroll along the beach. There are rumors that the women are lesbians because they are inordinately close but of course that is not the secret they're keeping.
Obviously this is a controversial subject matter and as a result the film will play art houses. You may decide that this film will not make your must-see list. It has everything to do with boundaries and those who are presumed to have crossed them. While there is certainly nothing illegal about what is going on, it may make one pause to simply ask... isn't there someone else you could fool around with? Your friend's kid?
I do think the writing offers us a good glimpse into the lust that these boys had, probably in general, but specifically toward each woman. The same could be said the other way around as well. None of them was doing anything they didn't want to do.
There were many scenes with the four together (not sexually) that just didn't ring true for me. They were mostly portrayed as simply four cool people lunching together and no one seems to have any negative issues in the beginning. Really? I felt sort of icky watching them together and I can only imagine at least one of the characters might have occasionally felt a little icky, too, but that is not shown.
The use of a narrator (not always a plot device I appreciate) might have helped explain emotions and some underpinnings and history. I understood the story viscerally at a certain level but I could not say the same intellectually because the appropriate information was not provided. I just don't think these four people would have sailed so smoothly into these potentially troubled waters. Ultimately, of course, there is some added drama as things do fall apart some, but I wanted to understand things a bit clearer when the juicy stuff is first thrust at me.
In my audience, people did some laughing and some of that may have been been uncomfortable giggles but more so it was likely to have come out of a reaction to some preposterous lines. It certainly wasn't in response to any hilarity. There was a time when we see on the screen two years later, something I don't care for. What? There was nothing to say for that period of time? Huh? With all this yearning and aching and bedding going on, we couldn't have filled in some of the missing gaps in characterization building? There were a few awkward transitions and some choppiness in plot development. Some things felt too rushed, others too drawn out. I was looking for a bit more focus.
None of my criticism is directed at the theme. I knew what I was letting myself in for when I walked in that theater. I like dramas about slices of life that I don't know much about, no matter how out of the ordinary. It doesn't bother me to see the drama of it all up there on the screen. I'd just like to have seen it told a bit better.
What couldn't have been much better was the acting of the four principals. In the future when I tend to make light of some American actors, I must make myself remember Robin Wright. Her character is in fact the best written and she invests all her worldly know-how in bringing this woman to life. I suspect that part of studying her role is to know everything she can about her character, whether it shows up on screen or not. She must know someone from the inside out and you can hear what she's learned in her voice and by watching the many nuances, mannerisms and shadings that she gives to her characters. She is a marvelous actress. I wish she worked more.
I have always enjoyed Naomi Watts' work as well but I think she can be limited by having one of the saddest faces I've ever seen on the screen. When a part calls for her to be upbeat and express joy, she can say it but she doesn't look it. Here her character says she is super happy with this kid. Really?
I had never heard of James Frechette or Xavier Samuel but both have that look needed to play youthful sex objects. I shall engineer checking them out again.
One of the best things about the movie was the location, particularly the beach scenes and the houses on the hillside. It was filmed entirely in New South Wales and the scenes at Seal Rocks and Shelly Beach were quite lovely. There is a part in the story where Wright's character is asked to move away to Sidney with her husband who's taken a job there. Most audience members are likely to say what I did.... what? move away from this? Later, Mate.
MGMs Sopranos III