Volume 92, Issue 39
Thursday, November 12, 1998
not too late to reconsider football too
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
Adult issues make for Loud Living
Photo by Merrick Morton
YOU'RE SOOO GOOD LOOKIN'. Danny DeVito and Holly Hunter are Living Out Loud.
By Beth Larsen
Finally, a Hollywood production which focuses on something other than flaunting the latest special effects, unbelievable stunts and explosions. Living Out Loud is a character-driven comedy which explores intense feelings of loneliness and the need to be noticed.
Set in New York, the film chronicles the life of Judith Nelson (Holly Hunter), a woman who sacrificed her identity to become the wife of a Fifth Avenue doctor. But when her husband leaves her for a younger woman, the slightly neurotic Judith is left to reconcile the emptiness of her superficial existence.
The turning point for Judith occurs at a trendy New York jazz bar, where Liz Bailey (Queen Latifah) turns in a stunning, sultry singing performance. Drunk and disillusioned, Judith stumbles into a closet where she is passionately kissed by a strange man. This pivotal moment gives Judith a refreshed outlook and leads her to befriend her building elevator operator, Pat (Danny DeVito). Together, they embark on a journey toward self-fulfillment and discovery.
As Judith's story unfolds, through several internal monologues we are invited into the internal workings of her mind. Writer and director Richard LaGravenese uses this unique angle to draw the viewer into the life of Judith Nelson, mirroring many of their own private hopes and fears.
Occasionally, the audience is deceived by what appears to be reality when Judith jumps from a tenth story window, or passionately kisses Pat. These intimate scenes are unpredictable and add an entertaining flare to the film. Overall, Hunter fills the pricey shoes of Judith suspiciously well.
As for Pat, his character is a little too cliche. DeVito plays a compulsive gambler thrown out by his wife, stuck in a dead end job and simultaneously chasing after a beautiful, younger woman. Pat's surprisingly banal lines suggest that maybe LaGravenese just finished watching an episode of Dawson's Creek before he came up with this character. Without DeVito's intensely realistic portrayal of Pat, this character may have been the sinker.
A key theme of the film is finding connections connections between desires and reality, fears and action and most significantly, the connections which create relationships. The linking force for LaGravenese is music. Jazz is the thread which weaves each character and scene together, making it one of those rare films where the soundtrack plays a leading role. Queen Latifah leads the film with her musical presence, creating a liberating tone in an otherwise dark atmosphere. Allowing music to exist so dominantly contributes to the sensual experience of Living Out Loud.
Overall, this film succeeds in exploring the dangerous realm of private fears ambitions and their manifestation through the human connection.
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