Showing posts with label Moving On. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Moving On. Show all posts

Friday, June 30, 2023

"No Hard Feelings" and a Couple of Other Good Movies You Should Know About

[I review the new Jennifer Lawrence comedy "No Hard Feelings" as well as two other films: "Moving On" and "The Quiet Girl")

No Hard Feelings (2023)

Maddie (Jennifer Lawrence) needs money to save her home so when she sees an ad to "date" a young man, she goes for it!

Where has Jennifer Lawrence been?  

Not sure how many people saw her 2022 movie "Causeway (I know I didn't)," and she had a two year break between "X-Men:Dark Phoenix" and "Don't Look Up."  Before that, she was the cool girl starring in those "Hunger Games" movies, but later, she was only doing one or two movies a year.  She herself admitted that she took a break.

But now she is back...and boy is she. This latest movie written by Gene Stupnitsky and John Phillips and directed by Stupnitsky, reminded me of just how much I had missed her and why.  She is not only a lovely actress but she has real acting chops and here shows her instinct for comic timing. And thanks to the writing, this movie is original and REALLY funny! I can't tell you how many supposed comedies I have been to and didn't laugh once. People, I laughed and laughed and laughed.  And I even shed a little tear at the poignant ending.

Lawrence plays Maddie Barker, a young woman who has lived in Montauk all of her life.  She lost her mother and her mother left her their house but Maddie is about to lose the house due to overdue property taxes. She doesn't want to sell the house because she is bitter about the "summer people," rich folks who take up space in Montauk and make it difficult for the natives to live there. And now her car has been repossessed.  Not good for an Uber driver who needs money.  And let's face it.  Maddie isn't living her best life. We learn early that she has been going from man to man, she has no problem doing whatever the hell she wants and doesn't appear to be looking to the future.  

So she is intrigued by an ad she sees.  A couple is offering a car to any young woman who will "date" their introverted son.  Notice "date" in quotes? Get it, right? 

Allison (Laura Benanti) and Laird Becker (Matthew Broderick) are those rich types that Maddie doesn't approve of.  Their son, Percy (Andrew Barth Feldman), is 19 and hardly leaves his room, he doesn't drive and has no friends. He will be off to Princeton in the fall and his parents are worried he won't make it there if he doesn't...okay, let's be clear here...if he doesn't have sex.  Laird has a fond memory of also being shy at that age but thanks to a young woman who educated him in the ways of the flesh, he was able to come out of his shell and enjoy college. He wants that for Percy. What a Dad!

The Beckers are your typical helicopter parents who do everything for their son.  They even know his passwords and track his phone. But I would say this is extreme helicoptering.  But it also makes for a very funny film.

Maddie goes for an interview with the Beckers. They were looking for a woman in her early twenties and Maddie has to admit she is 32 but manages to get the gig.  Now she just has to figure out a way to meet Percy, have sex with him and keep this deal with his parents a secret. She really needs that car!  Let the comedy begin.

Feldman is a relative newcomer to film acting, though he starred in "Dear Evan Hansen" on Broadway.  He took time away from his Harvard education for this film (I wonder how he feels about playing a future Princeton grad), but I predict we will see more of him.  He is very believable here as the introverted and romantically clumsy Percy.  And it's funny to see Broderick as a helicopter Dad when you remember he was Ferris Bueller.  The rest of the ensemble is also first rate.

But this is Lawrence's movie.

I always admire actors who are unafraid to let it all hang out when it comes to their characters and Jennifer literally let's it all hang out. When Percy and Maddie go skinny dipping in the ocean, some teens try to steal their clothes. Hold on to your seat as Maddie rises out of the sea, stark naked, and proceeds to beat the crap out of those kids to get their clothes back. Jennifer is one brave actress!

Rosy the Reviewer glad you are back, Jennifer. I enjoyed this movie from beginning to end. This is a must-see summer movie! (In theatres and available on YouTube)

Moving On (2022)

Claire (Jane Fonda) and Evelyn (Lily Tomlin) are old friends who reunite at a funeral and get involved in a murder plot.

After seeing the latest "Book Club" movie, I had forgiven Jane and Lily for the abominable "80 for Brady." And being a "Grace and Frankie" fan, I was happy to see them together again here, just the two of them. 

Claire and Evelyn were college roommates but they had become estranged.  But when their friend, Joyce, dies, they see each other again at Joyce's funeral.  Claire is clearly agitated at the funeral and it turns out that something terrible happened between Joyce's husband, Howard (Malcolm McDowell), and Claire years ago.  She never told anyone because she didn't think anyone would believe her, but it affected Claire's life to the point that she became estranged from her friends, left her husband and had not been able to move on since that day.  

So Claire plans to kill Howard - she even tells him she is going to kill him - and she enlists Evelyn's help. Evelyn is a retired musician who speaks her mind and also has issues from her past causing her pain. She hates Howard too. The two embark on what turns out to be a series of often humorous failed murder attempts until the big reveal near the end of the film. In the meantime, there are some tender moments when Claire reunites with her ex-husband, Ralph, played by Richard Roundtree.

Fonda is poignant as Claire going from a tightly wound woman who has held everything in for years to one who can finally feel her emotions and Tomlin delivers her wisecracks in her usual funny dry monotone.  McDowell's Howard is creepy - you will hate him too - and Roundtree is wonderfully handsome.  He doesn't seem to have aged a bit.

By pairing Fonda and Tomlin together, the film is definitely cashing in on their real life friendship and chemistry as well as the "Grace and Frankie" series, but though there are comedic moments, this film, written and directed by Paul Weitz, is a far cry from "Grace and Frankie" in how it deals with the issues of aging, regret, loss of independence, revenge, privileged men and well...moving on. Their characters here do us older ladies proud, unlike the nutty old ladies they played in "80 for Brady."  So like I said, Jane and Lily, I have forgiven you for that. You have more than redeemed yourselves with this wonderful little film.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you need a "Grace and Frankie" fix but one with a twist, you will enjoy this. (on DVD and for rent on most streaming platforms).

The Quiet Girl (2022)

Withdrawn nine-year-old Cait (Catherine Clinch) is sent away to live with her middle-aged distant cousin and her husband.

In the summer of 1981, shy nine-year-old Cáit is living with her three older sisters and poor and neglectful parents in rural Ireland. Her mother is pregnant again and her father is a drunk. Cait is struggling in school, bullied and must steal food from her classmates in order to eat because she is sent to school without lunch. For a reason not really explained, it is decided to send Cait away to live with a middle-aged distant cousin Eibhlín (Carrie Crowley) and her husband Seán (Andrew Bennett) on a farm in another county.

Unlike at home, Eibhlin treats Cait with warmth and love, teaching her how to do chores and buying her new clothes. Sean, on the other hand, is initially withdrawn and acts coldly towards Cait. 

One day when Eibhlín is away, Sean takes Cáit out to the far side of the farm to do chores. While he is busy, Cáit wanders off which causes Sean to panic when he notices she is gone. After finding her, he scolds her and tells her to never wander off again, but later Seán expresses remorse and begins to make an effort to bond with Cáit. He encourages her to run to get the mail, turning it into a game and timing her. Slowly, the two become close. Under the care of Eibhlin and Sean, Cait flourishes and she learns that life can be good. But one day when a neighbor is looking after her, Cait learns about a tragic event in the lives of Eibhlin and Sean, something they had kept secret.

Based on the story "Foster" by Claire Keegan and written and directed by Colm Bairead, this is a beautifully written, produced and photographed coming-of-age story spoken mostly in Irish with English subtitles. It is so thoughtfully presented, it is almost like a poem. Not much happens as the story unfolds but the film will pull you in and after it is over you will not be able to forget it, especially young Catherine Clinch's mesmerizing face. 

This film did what films are supposed to do.  It created an experience for the viewer.  And I am not alone in my praise. It was critically acclaimed and was nominated for Best International Feature Film at the last Academy Awards, the first Irish film to be nominated for an Oscar.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a small film with a very big heart that you will not be able to forget.  The ending will make you cry. ( In Irish with English subtitles. (available on Hulu.  It is also on DVD and for rent on most streaming platforms)

Thanks for reading!

See you next time!

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