Nicole Holofcener has been a powerful voice in the indie scene for over twenty years now and I’m just now seeing her work for the first time. Lovely & Amazing is one of her early films and a spectacular look at normal people going through normal things. Subtlety is very exciting to me if it’s done in the right way and Holofcener definitely has that aspect of filmmaking down. She just got her first Oscar nomination for writing the screenplay for Can You Ever Forgive Me? I’m hoping that Hofocener will get more one day, because she can flat out direct.
Jane Marks is the mother of two adult daughters named Michelle and Elizabeth and one preteen who was adopted named Annie. Each one of them has a sort of mental roadblock in their way. Michelle has a family but her husband constantly degrades her so she seeks attention elsewhere. Elizabeth is an actress who isn’t attractive enough for the studios and Annie is, well, a preteen. Jane does her best to mother the differing personalities while undergoing a major surgery herself.
The performances are very committed and very authentic in Lovely & Amazing. I would’ve thought that Raven Goodwin was destined for stardom but she hasn’t done much since stopping our hearts as Annie. Emily Mortimer is super underrated and she does a great job as Elizabeth the insecure actress, but the winner of Lovely & Amazing has got to be Catherine Keener as Michelle. She really floors me in every role she takes on but Hofocener is the perfect writer for her which is awesome because Keener appears in everything that Hofocener has ever done. It was also great to see the younger Jake Gyllenhaal and Dermot Mulroney play love interests. Lovely & Amazing isn’t going to knock your socks off, but it will make you sort of sweat with an uncomfortability that only great writing and acting can achieve.