Writer Richard LaGravenese (The Bridges Of Madison County, The
Fisher King, etc) makes his directorial debut with this edgy romantic
comedy about a pair of middle aged divorcees looking to put a spark of
romance back into their lives. He understands the demands of his
perceptive and intelligent script, and probes the quiet desperation of
his central characters with a painful honesty.
Judith Nelson (a strikingly blonde Holly Hunter) has recently
divorced her womanising husband (Martin Donovan), and attempts to
start her life all over again. Pat Francato (Danny De Vito) is also
recently separated. He is coping with a terminally ill daughter while
also trying to pay off his mounting gambling debts. He works as night
watchman in Judith's apartment block.
The film explores the unexpected relationship that develops between
these two lonely people from vastly different backgrounds, and the way
in which it changes their lives. Unfortunately, Judith does not share
Pat's depth of feelings, although his friendship is quite important to
her sense of stability. Hunter has a penchant for off beat
characters, and she is very good in this emotionally demanding role.
She effectively conveys Judith's loneliness and frustrated passion,
and hints at the thinly veiled madness that drives her. Cast largely
against type, De Vito is quite touching and unusually vulnerable in a
role that allows him few opportunities to show off his acerbic and
sarcastic wit. Rap singer Queen Latifah (Set It Off, etc) provides
solid support as Liz Bailey, a blues singer who befriends Judith.
Living Out Loud heralds an impressive debut from LaGravenese,
whose direction is restrained and economical. The film is suffused
with a palpable air of loneliness and sadness, but there is also a
strong undercurrent of warmth and humour. Living Out Loud is a film
of huge emotions, honesty and small pleasures.
Despite a pair of solid central performances and some classy
production values, it will struggle to find an appreciative audience.
In a crowded cinema marketplace traditionally dominated by movies
aimed at 18-25 year olds there doesn't seem to be much demand for
romantic comedies about two lonely, very ordinary, middle aged New
Yorkers looking for love.
Copyright © 1998 Greg King