Monday, January 20, 2014

Some Velvet Morning [2013]

MPAA (UR would be R)  Chicago SunTimes (3 Stars) (3 Stars)  AVClub (B-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars)

IMDb listing
Chicago SunTimes (M. Houlihan) review (C. Lemire) review
AVClub (M. D'Angelo) review

Some Velvet Morning [2013] (written and directed by Neil LaBute) is a well-crafted, well-acted unrated (would be R) dialogue driven film that involves just two characters and takes place in its entirety in an upscale Brooklyn townhouse.  It played recently at Facets Multimedia here in Chicago.

The film begins with a late-40 to mid-50-something Fred (played by Stanley Tucci) apparently some middle-level guy on Wall Street appearing on mid-to-late 20-something "Velvet's" (played by Alice Eve) quite elegant townhouse's doorstep with two bags in hand and news: "I've finally done it, I've left my wife!" 

Wow, talk about starting a story with a bang.  'Cept immediately there's a problem.  "Velvet" hasn't seen Fred in 6 months.  And while they did have something of an affair previous to that -- the two had met on account of Fred's son, as she was a friend of his while he attended college a number years back -- Fred and "Velvet's" "affair" was really more of a prostitution arrangement: he'd buy her stuff or even just pay her in cash and she'd sleep with him.  And not particularly surprisingly, Fred was never, ever Velvet's only such client.  So when he stopped calling six months back, she didn't particularly miss him.

But here he is now ... on her doorstep announcing six months after they had last spoken that he's left his wife and ... presumably wants to enter.  Being a basically nice/accomodating person, she lets him in with the more-or-less obvious hope/desire that soon he'd be on his way again.  But with his two bags in hand, it's clear that he'd really like to stay. ;-)  The rest of the dialogue driven film follows.

The film to me is fascinating because no matter how "adult" / "sophisticated" ADULTery (or sexual sin in general) is, it is Sin and it puts one into situations that one would really not want to be in.  AT DIFFERENT TIMES ONE WOULD NOT WANT TO BE EITHER OF THESE TWO CHARACTERS -- the guy who declares that he's "left his wife" only to find out that he has NO PLACE REALLY TO GO, or the woman who may have thought herself previously smarter, more in control of situations (including ones more or less inherently "off the reservation") than she probably should have.

Anyway, while this is a film that's definitely not for kids, I would imagine that it would make for a very interesting discussion piece among young adults and above.

A word about the ending: I don't particularly like it but I also understand the dilemma of the film-makers here.  I think most of us would know that a story like this can't really end well.  And yet, story-telling conventions kinda demand that the story like this end better than we'd suspect it would.  So while I don't think that the film's ending works particularly well, the rest of the film certainly makes its point.

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