Wednesday July 17, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 156



'Lovely and Amazing' a solid, touching film

By Andrew Beard
The Daily Cougar

It's guaranteed that every other five minutes on MTV, Britney Spears will appear in a sexually explicit outfit gyrating her body parts in all directions and
singing lyrics like "Hit me baby one more time." How is this effective? For guys, well that's obvious, but for women this new genre of teen pop gives
rise to a wide range of topics. And Lovely and Amazing indirectly touches on these current female issues.

In one of the best directed films of the year, Nicole Holofcener gently moves the story between three women, a mother and her two daughters, as
they venture down three separate paths of self-destruction. This may not sound like a good premise for a comedy, but each character stays in touch
with reality, causing the comedic flow to seem natural instead of relying on the standard punch lines. 

Jane Marks, played by Brenda Blethyn, is a divorcee with two rail-thin daughters, Michelle and Elizabeth, and one adopted African-American daughter
named Annie. After several failed relationships and an increasingly feeling of loneliness, Jane decides to get liposuction. Any first-week medical
student could have taken a look and suggested otherwise, but with the help of a flirtatious plastic surgeon, she agrees. 

Some of the best and most original scenes occur when Jane and Annie, her mildly overweight eight-year-old, discuss the surgery. After Jane
explains that feeling better about herself will require ten pounds of body fat to be sucked from her thighs, Annie, becomes convinced that her body is
no longer acceptable.

Jane's two adult daughters, Michelle, played by Catherine Keener, and Elizabeth, played by Emily Mortimer, help cause their mother's downfall as
they traumatize their own lives as well.

Michelle, a former homecoming queen, exists in a loveless marriage where her and her husband merely talk at one another. Michelle is the most
interesting character in the movie. She has no patience for anyone and frequently uses her favorite phrase, "(expletive deleted) off."

Elizabeth is the antithesis of her older sister. As a natural beauty, she's convinced otherwise as she puts herself through humiliating model shoots
and acting auditions with directors who pounce on her insecurities. Her life involves a revolving door of men with her current boyfriend on the way out.
One day she asks him, "Do you find me sexy?" and he replies, " I would like to have sex with you."

As expected, Jane's surgery has complications and Annie is reluctantly passed onto the two older sisters. The three engage in a series of
conversations, which at first seem annoying, but later become relevant.

The writing in the movie is superb. Every character is void of cliches. The mother refrains from judging her daughters and stamping her feet every
time they make a mistake. All the characters eventually find separate resolutions without the movie turning into a sobfest that ends with a group hug.

For future references, if the title Lions Gate Films flashes on the screen before the movie, you're almost guaranteed to enjoy it. The relatively small
production company steadily pumps out respectable films, such as Frailty, Monster's Ball and Cat's Meow, and has never spent more than $20
million on 

a movie, which sounds hefty, but it's the same amount Tom Cruise gets paid for each film.

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