Saturday, December 29, 2012

Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her (1999)

Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her was originally a television movie made by Showtime. I stumbled on this by accident while perusing Netflix's streaming service.  While it's not exactly the kind of movie I gravitate towards, it did boast some acclaimed actors. Since it was leaving the Netflix streaming service on December 31, 2012. I decided to watch the first few minutes of it, which were interesting enough to watch the whole thing.

The movie has several loosely-interrelated stories that focus on the unhappy love lives of women.  In the first, Glenn Close portrays a successful doctor who happens to be caring for her elderly mother on a day off. She arranges to have a fortune teller (played by Calista Flockhart, who is less annoying than usual) stop by the house. She is taken aback when the fortune teller predicts a relationship with a younger man whom she hasn't yet met. Close is one of America's best actresses and she does amazing things here without saying a word, but her story is ultimately not terribly compelling.More successful is the one where Holly Hunter portrays a successful single bank manager who finds herself pregnant with her married lover's (played by Gregory Hines) child.  Childless and nearing 40, Hunter's character elects to abort her child and subsequently feels despairing loneliness and regret. Hunter was Emmy-nominated for this role.

Kathy Baker portrays a single mom having to deal with her teenage son's sexual awakening and then she finds herself attracted to the dwarf who moves into the house across the street. This could have been a train wreck (albeit a watchable one!), but somehow the situation is handled with dexterity and charm. The fourth storyline is the least successful -- Flockhart's character is at home caring for her cancer-ridden lover played by Valeria Golina. I really had zero interest in this talky segment. The last segment is a single police detective, played by Amy Brenneman, who is investigating the murder of a high school friend and living with her blind sister played by Cameron Diaz. Diaz gives a good performance, and Brenneman is even better as we see her envy at her sister's love life.

I like movies with interlocking stories. The cast also features Matt Craven who is featured importantly in the Hunter and Brenneman vignettes. For a nuch better look at this type of movie though, I suggest watching director Robert Altman's Short Cuts. Other than the acting, I can't give a very compelling reason to watch Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her. The acting is accomplished, though, and I'd give the movie a B.

Interesting fact: The director is Rodrigo Garcia, son of writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Watched alone on Netflix streaming on December 29, 2012.

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