An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters, breathing new life into the genre. First-time director Kelly Fremon Craig (who previously wrote the rom-com Post Grad) has created an involving film about a teenaged girl who is easy to identify with. The script may try too hard to explain away all of her darker emotions, but it's sharp and entertaining.
Hailee Steinfeld stars as Nadine, a 17-year-old in Portland, Oregon. On the fringe of the popular kids at school, she feels like a loser who doesn't deserve to live. And she can't cope with the fact that her best pal Krista (Haley Lu Richardson) has fallen for her irritatingly popular big brother Darian (Blake Jenner). It certainly doesn't help that her mother Mona (Kyra Sedgwick) is an emotional wreck, or that Nadine is being pursued by the class nerd Erwin (Hayden Szeto), because she's much more interested in bad boy Nick (Alexander Calvert). In need of someone to talk to, she turns to her grouchy history teacher Mr Bruner (Woody Harrelson), who refuses to indulge in her angst. But he's also the only person who actually listens to her.
Steinfeld is terrific in the role, bringing an endearing raw authenticity to a character who isn't hugely likeable. As Nadine ruthlessly insults everyone around her, Steinfeld quietly reveals the sensitive soul inside, which adds a blast of complexity to her scenes with the superbly restrained Harrelson, Sedgwick and Jenner. All of these relationships are difficult and often startlingly realistic, as is the depiction of high school peer pressure. As Nadine's classmates, Richardson has a wonderfully twisty role as her childhood bestie who has apparently betrayed her trust, while Szeto steals his scenes as the hilariously awkward Erwin.
Continue reading: The Edge Of Seventeen Review
Brooks is back with another warm, smart romance along the lines of As Good As It Gets. The snappy characters are well-played by a strong cast, which makes it steadily entertaining even if it's not hugely believable.
Professional softball player Lisa (Witherspoon) and businessman Paul (Rudd) are strangers who are set up on a blind date by a mutual friend. But they discount the possibility of even meeting because Paul has become serious with his girlfriend (Conn) and Lisa is seeing a star baseball player (Wilson). Then their lives both take a turn. Lisa is cut from her team, and Paul becomes the target of a Federal investigation into the business he runs for his father (Nicholson). As their paths keep crossing, they begin to see each other in a different light.
As usual, Brooks writes extremely clever dialog that blends brainy sassiness and emotional resonance, and the film is packed with scenes in which characters have all kinds of lucid insight into the nature or relationships, usually in contrast to someone who's extremely clueless. The formula is a bit of a strain, but it keeps us engaged, mainly because the script crackles with hilariously incisive one-liners and comical gags.
And the cast members all play their roles as if they're sliding into comfy slippers. Witherspoon and Wilson are funny and laid back as well as effortlessly astute and oblivious, respectively. Rudd is breezy and adorable even as his life is flooded with sadness. Nicholson squirms a bit in an against-type role but comes up with some fine comical moments. And everyone is hugely likeable, even when two of them do rather nasty things to the other two.
Although actually they only think nasty thoughts, because the film never gets very down and dirty about the story's dark corners. It's one of those films that skims happily across the surface while making pointed observations that catch us off guard because they seem to reveal something about the nature of relationships. This leaves us feeling warm and thoughtful, even if the film ultimately fades from memory in about the time it takes for the lights to come up in the cinema.
Riding in Cars with Boys follows the life of Beverly Hasek (Drew Barrymore) as she takes up the difficult role of motherhood at the age of 15, while at the same time, never giving up her dreams. And, while a quintessential chick flick, Riding in Cars chooses to take a higher road -- a genuine road, filled with life lessons so real you can feel them burning their way down your throat and tugging at that little place inside you that says, "Hey, this could have been me!"
Continue reading: Riding In Cars With Boys Review
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An unusually realistic teen movie, this drama gets deep under the skin of its characters,...
Brooks is back with another warm, smart romance along the lines of As Good As...