My previous movie commentary (Yesterday) said, “The acting is good and the casting fantastic.” This film in no way compels that same statement. The cast did not fit; the directing did not impress.
Natalie Portman a stripper? It’s not the “height” of her skills, so to speak. Julia Roberts incessantly wavering? She is often great playing a focused character. Jude Law as the unhinged author? He triumphantly carried this style forward to portray Thomas Wolfe in Genius (2016), but here it was uneven. Clive Owen being a weird dermatologist? He got “under my skin” like the rest of them.
This screenplay came from a stage play. The film seemed limited by the original format, with the same people bumping into each other at every turn, and not smoothly. Mike Nichols directed, apparently unwilling to develop different spaces for the actors to inhabit than one might find in constrained stage sets.
Mr. Nichols accomplished much with The Graduate (1967) and Working Girl (1988). Some liked his work in Charlie Wilson’s War (2007). For my taste, he wasn’t able with Closer (2004) to squeeze a gem into his every-twenty-years-a-hit regimen. Ouch! It’s likely that statement says more about my taste than his directing.
I like these actors. You might also be tempted by the cast list that called to me. If you have seen this film, please provide a hint of redeeming qualities beyond, “I like those actors.”
*(star) rating in the title is mine; e.g. 7*=Seven Stars (maximum 10)