A tale about a happily married couple who would like to have children. Tracy teaches art, Andy's a college dean. Things are never the same after she is taken to hospital and operated upon by Jed, a "know all" doctor.
Leo is released from prison after serving time for car theft. His plan to go straight falls apart when he meets his corrupt uncle for a job and later an old friend working there. It culminates at the (railroad) yards.
Suzanne Stone (Kidman) knows exactly what she wants. She wants to be a television newscaster and she is willing to do anything to get what she wants. What she lacks in intelligence, she makes up for in cold determination and diabolical wiles. As she pursues her goal with relentless focus, she is forced to destroy anything and anyone that may stand in her way, regardless of the ultimate cost or means necessary.Written by
Tad Dibbern <DIBBERN_D@a1.mscf.upenn.edu>
On the night that Larry is murdered, Suzanne, her parents and Larry's parents are all shown sitting inside the apartment where he was shot. As a murder scene, it would have been taped off for forensic examination. There is no way it would have been contaminated on that level. It would have been at least a week before anyone outside of the CSI team were allowed in. See more »
But it's really something when you think that... I'm the one who's gonna be famous. Suzanne would die if she knew.
See more »
The credits say that Misha is played by Walter but in fact, in the movie the dog's name was Walter and its real name is Misha. See more »
There are some good things here - most notably the performances of Nicolle Kidman and Joaquin Phoenix - that nevertheless fail to coalesce into a satisfying whole because of the confusion of the central story. Kidman is great as the feather-brained harpy who will stop at nothing to be on television - the absolute narrowness of her world-view to the parameters of what fits onto the TV screen makes her a kind of female counterpart to Jim Carrey's Cable guy. But her single-minded devotion to this aim causes her subsequent actions to make little sense: would someone as ambitious as her really stick around in a nowhere New England town (humorously named Little Hope) rather than set out for the big time of New York or Los Angeles? Such a transplant would have given the movie a kick, since it would have set Suzanne's fundamental cluelessness against the reality of the television industry and how it actually works (to perhaps more humorous results than are displayed here).
But even if you can buy Suzanne remaining in her isolated little hamlet (and it must be said that the setting does allow for some subtler, more understated humor than the scenario drawn above would have), does it make any sense whatsoever for her to get involved with, much less marry, the Matt Dillon character? If we're really supposed to buy her as someone who thinks about nothing but television and making it in that medium, then what could she possibly see in Dillon, who is barely even familiar with TV? Any explanation would probably be lame, but what's lamer is the fact that the filmmakers don't even try to supply one! This leaves you with the sick feeling that it only happens in order to get the plot moving - the worst possible reason for ANYTHING to happen!
This fundamental flaw in plot logic really sinks the movie before it even has time to get going. That's a shame, because there are SO MANY good things here: Kidman's performance is wonderfully perky and shallow in all the right ways, and the candy-colored outfits that have been designed for her are a scream just in themselves. The narrative style is inventive, being told in flashback as a series of interviews - "Hard Copy" style, or even "Oprah" style - with the main participants, which in itself forms a meta-critique upon television and its reconstruction of the world (although, curiously, the film keeps dropping in and out of this style, and so waters down its effect). Finally, Phoenix is at once both hilarious and heartbreaking in his portrayal of a trailer park teenager so besotted with Kidman and the sophistication she supposedly represents (the joke's on him, of course) that he'd literally do anything for her, which is exactly his undoing. Watching him, I kept thinking of Dustin Hoffman's groundbreaking performance in The Graduate and how it operated on the twin levels of satire and true sympathy all at once. Phoenix, in my opinion, hits the same bulls-eye.
Other enjoyable performances come from Ileana Douglas as Dillon's sister, wonderfully nasty and sarcastic when discussing Kidman (and then surprisingly touching and vulnerable when you're least expecting it) and Wayne Knight as the head of the cable station where Suzanne comes to work. If you know Knight only as Newman on TV's "Seinfeld" and so believe him only capable of wild over-acting, his performance here is a treat: his baffled and understated responses to Suzanne's dippy ideas and shenanigans are some of the funniest things in the picture.
But in the end it all comes to nothing. The good things in this movie just can't salvage the fact that the central story has not been worked out with enough rigor. The film spins its wheels beautifully, but it simply has nowhere to go.
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