Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn, John Travolta, Harry Dean Stanton, Debi Mazar, James Gandolfini, Gena Rowlands, Susan Traylor, Bobby Cooper, John Marshall Jones, Chloe Webb, James Soravilla, Burt Young
Written by: John Cassavetes
Directed by: Nick Cassavetes
MPAA Rating: R for strong language and some violence
Running Time: 100
Date: 05/15/1997

She's So Lovely (1997)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Fathers and Sons

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

For his second film (1997), director Nick Cassavetes filmed the final unproduced screenplay by his father, legendary independent filmmaker John Cassavetes. But times had changed and trouble arose when the studio decided that John's title, She's De Lovely, had to be changed because audiences wouldn't know that it was a reference to a Cole Porter song. This slap in the face unfortunately carries over into the finished film, which actually seems only half-finished. Maureen (Robin Wright-Penn) lives a miserable, lowdown existence, and spends half of it wondering when her violent, drunken husband Eddie (Sean Penn) will be home. At the end of one long, alcohol-soaked day, Eddie finally snaps and goes to the nuthouse for "three months." Ten years later, Maureen has shaped up, married Joey (John Travolta) and had three kids when Eddie finally gets out and shows up, looking for his life back. It would be easy to assign the more cohesive, more grounded first part to John and the overwritten, irrational, nonsensical second part to Nick. But the reality is probably far more complex. The final movie has patches of brilliance where father and son seem to be in tune, and patches of opaqueness where no one seems to know what to do. Fortunately, the acting is universally first-rate, and credit for that goes to Nick.

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