Father and Child Reunion

Unhook the Stars had some fine human touches and a performance by Rowlands that was very different from her grandstanding psychodramatics in John's films. In She's So Lovely, Nick Cassavetes doesn't mimic his father's directorial style, the way his camera operated as a kind of homing device for the actors' every twitch and tussle. He's a much more straightforward filmmaker but, in visual terms, he's trying to achieve clarity with material that defies it. As a result, the actors all seem isolated by their shenanigans.

The absurdity of what they are being asked to do comes to us unimpeded by the usual John Cassavetes accessories: the "raw" cinematography and joy-riding camerawork. And so the actors, in their isolation, seem doubly absurd. Robin Wright Penn is doing the Rowlands blowsy-angel bit, but she's so mannered she might be competing for Jennifer Jason Leigh's crown. Penn, perhaps to match her, piles up the mannerisms too. Travolta, who seems to be appearing in every third movie these days (is he afraid Hollywood will forget him again?) is also uncharacteristically actor-ish; perhaps he didn't want to be left out. He does things like say tink for think, just so we know Joey's an up-from-the-streets kind of guy.

Only Harry Dean Stanton, playing Eddie's best friend, comes across as a recognizable human being. Stanton is amazing; I don't think I've ever seen him give a bad performance. Oblivious to the human zoo in She's So Lovely, he quietly goes his own way. His down-home resonance is more than a breath of fresh air; it's the only gulp of oxygen in the entire movie.

She's So Lovely.
Written by John Cassavetes; directed by Nick Cassavetes; with Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn, John Travolta, Harry Dean Stanton, and Debi Mazar.

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