Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Walking and Talking

Originally Written and Posted at on 11/5/03 w/ Additional Edits & Revisions.

Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener, Walking and Talking is the story of two female friends whose lives are changed by the engagement of another. With one dealing with a sick cat as well as her lackluster love life, the other deals with the transition of becoming a married woman. The film explores the world of female relationships and the men that surrounds them in this witty yet engrossing film. Starring Catherine Keener, Anne Heche, Todd Field, Kevin Corrigan, Randall Batinkoff, and Liev Schrieber. Walking and Talking is a superbly funny film from Nicole Holofcener.

Since being friends since childhood, Amelia (Catherine Keener) and Laura (Anne Heche) are in their 30s as their lives are set to change. Amelia is dealing with the illness of her cat Big Jeans while Laura is a doctor who is dealing with a disturbed patient (Vincent Pastore) who claims to see the devil. Amelia's ex-boyfriend Andrew (Liev Schrieber) reveals that he's been talking to a woman from California as Amelia befriends a video store clerk named Bill (Kevin Corrigan). After convincing her therapist (Joseph Siravo) that she no longer needs therapy, Amelia's life is rocked when Laura announced she's engaged to her longtime boyfriend Frank (Todd Fields). Amelia is in shock as her date with Bill doesn't go well while she turns to Andrew for help to deal with the news.

Laura meanwhile, ponders about what is ahead for marriage as she finds herself going to play with an actor named Peter (Randall Batinkoff) whom she met earlier at a restaurant he worked at. Depressed over the news of her cat's illness and the news of Laura's engagement, Amelia goes on another date with Bill as the night ends in disaster when Bill hears Laura on the answering machine supposedly talking about him. Amelia wonders what happened as she hangs out with Frank at his apartment while Laura sees Peter in his play. After hanging out with Andrew and his parents for a meal, Amelia learns that the woman Andrew has been talking to was a phone sex client. Things worsen when Amelia confronts Bill about what happened that night as she was shocked to learn about Laura's phone message.

Going to a weekend getaway at a lake house, Amelia joins Frank and Laura to the house where Frank wants to have the wedding. Yet, Laura is bothered by the mole on Frank's shoulder thinking its malignant as Frank leaves where the two women are bothered by some obscene phone calls. With Andrew helping out, they all return to New York City as Amelia becomes depressed over some events as Laura has second thoughts about the upcoming wedding. The two longtime friends start to bicker over their own decisions as each wonder about their own role as women and the men in their lives.

What makes Walking and Talking an enjoyable, light-hearted comedy-drama is that Nicole Holofcener balances the boundaries between comedy and drama throughout the film though at times, there's a few predictable moments. Holofcener deserves total credit for bringing in hilarious scenes as well as powerful, emotional drama as the actors play real people instead of the exaggeration Hollywood films will tend to do for some actors. Holofcener even brings a glowing look to her film with cinematographer Michael Spiller, who captures the nice, summer look of trees and the streets that is so New York City, it couldn't be imitated by another city. Another great noted factor about the film is the music ranging Yo La Tengo, Liz Phair, Joan Osborne, Joe Henry, some obscure acts like Sea and Cake and Catherine, and Billy Bragg, who does most of the music and the film's score that just jangles on through the entire film.

Catherine Keener, alone, is the film's best performance as she plays a desperate woman trying to find her niche in the world of relationships as she ponders her own misery without being overly melodramatic and being funny when the time is right. Anne Heche is excellent as Laura, who plays this confused woman who is about to get married but is wondering if she still exists in the singles life as Heche brings a nice charm to the character.

Todd Field is wonderful as the more laid-back Frank who plays the kind of guy who is cool to his girlfriend's best friend while he delivers a few hilarious lines, notably the "vagina music" line. Liev Schreiber is brilliant as the compassionate, porn-loving Andrew who brings out the film's more hilarious moments while he even displays his dramatic touches in a later scene with Andrew's parents. Kevin Corrigan is funny as the monster-loving Bill, who loves to talk about horror films and videos while he gets extra cool points for a wearing a My Bloody Valentine t-shirt (the band, not the movie). Also worth noting is Vincent Pastore who is hilarious as the devil-seeing patient and watch out for Allison Janney as one of Amelia's neighbors.

Walking and Talking is a fun, heartwarming comedy-drama from Nicole Holofcener with an excellent story, superb soundtrack, and an amazing cast led by Catherine Keener. It's a film that is very engaging in exploring the anxiety of women in their 30s as they deal with changes in their life. It's also a film that strays from convention of usual female-driven films as it allows the women to be very real as well as flawed in their decisions about life. In the end, Walking and Talking is an extraordinary film from Nicole Holofcener.

© thevoid99 2012

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