- Interview with Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn
- Interview with Adam Scott and Elizabeth Banks
- Shop and Save
Senior Citizens meet cute and do stuff you’d rather not think about.
Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn, Adam Scott, and Elizabeth Banks. Directed by Nik Fackler
Robert Malone (Landau) lives alone and works away his remaining years at the local Shop and Save, until he meets the wrinkly widow of his dreams, Mary (Burstyn). Suddenly thrust back into the dating scene, Robert asks his store manager (Scott) for dating advice. Meanwhile, Mary’s daughter (Banks) makes weird vague statements about how dating Robert is a bad idea. But bad advice and nonsensical complaining aren’t enough to keep these two AARP members away. And, when the two actually start to date, it’s an awkward tale of fumbling old people and their romantic follies. Awww.
movies for Victor/Victoria.”
I can talk about this film for about four seconds without getting into it’s illogical, lazy ending. It’s kind of a twist, so I’m going to spoil. You really shouldn’t care, for the most part it’s an old people in love movie. Hallmark makes like six a year. But if you do, be warned. Most of the movie is pretty solid in it’s uselessness, but the ending is really fucking stupid. I could all but see the director jumping into frame holding a sign that says ‘message goes here’ as he beats the logic out of a simple movie. The spoiler free way to talk about this movie would probably need to go in depth on wrinkly biology. Old people falling in love in film, it’s mostly creepy. Martin Landau’s eighty two, so if they talk about him dating I’m going have to think about if his penis would work. It’s some sort of freak show law, and I’m sure I’m secretly just hoping my junk doesn’t fall off when I turn sixty five, but it’s pretty much unavoidable in this type of movie. And the couple has a (biologically improbable) morning after in the same bed, so it’s not a subject the film tries to sidestep. So, instead of talking about how creepy it is when people over eighty make out, I’ll talk about how insanely awful the ending is. It’s better that way, for everyone. If you want some sort of spoiler free capsule review; Lovely, Still is terrible, trite bullshit that you should avoid. And if you are going to watch it, it’s better to know the ending, than you can watch a director make horrible decision after horrible decision. At least it gives the movie a little value, outside of Adam (Oscar for Piranha 3D, please) Scott.
So here it is, Landau has Alzheimer’s. He and Burstyn have been married the entire time. He just didn’t know it because Alzheimer’s patients have selective memories, not bad ones. Or something. Oh, Adam Scott and Elizabeth Banks are actually their kids. That’s the big spoiler. That’s the stupid twist they shove in at the end, because just killing off an old guy isn’t enough to force people to cry these days. The entire logic of the film is completely fucked with the twist too. Landau is living in the house across the street from his family, was his family playing some sort of fucked up joke on their sick father? Were they letting him wander around his house clueless until they thought they could force him to love them again? Does the movie take place in his head, with no indication whatsoever? Why does he remember everything fine, except who his family is? Why would an Alzheimer’s patient go to work everyday to stock groceries at the store he owns? A store run by his own son, who he doesn’t know is his son but knows the guy’s name and phone number. Why would his wife, apparently tricking him into failing in love with her again, tell him her husband died? It’s insane how little thought the director must have put into the ending, nothing fits and the film is nothing but a meet cute with old people until the last ten minutes. I’m sure the guy thought he was saying something important, but he was eighteen when he wrote it. What eighteen year old has anything to say about people in their eighties? Nicholas Fackler is obviously saying something specific about aging though, this isn’t some universal human experience. It’s presumptuous for an inexperienced director to turn these great actors into caricatures of old age for a silly love story, and it’s downright offensive to use them in a hazy, forced message movie.
The director’s inexperience is all to blame, right down to the less than average performances of the leads. This is just a movie he shouldn’t have made. Landau is reduced to a baby mugging for the camera, until he suddenly has Alzheimer’s and goes apeshit. The failure of the performance is written in the film’s structure, for the twist to be a twist Landau can’t let on he’s not all there so he plays it slightly befuddled and cute instead. Mugging and going on about being in love to anyone that will listen. Landau’s expressive face is his greatest asset, but here it’s forced and wrong. My guess is, it’s the work of an actor trusting a director he shouldn’t. It’s a kid’s version of a senior citizen, a fond memory of someone’s grandpa forced into an actor. Ellen Burstyn does a little better, but her role is much more grounded and the director treats her mostly as a plot device. She’s there to talk to Landau and lead him into saying some grand cliche about love, and then to disappear so he can go crazy and yell a bunch. At the end, she gets to go a little crazy herself and scream some useless exposition, but she still doesn’t get to the depths of over acting Landau reaches. On the other hand, Adam Scott is a natural comedian, and it seems like Fackler just lets him to do his thing. A smart move, because Scott is really fucking funny. With Scott and Elizabeth Banks the film openly flirts with being a multi-generational romcom, but sadly it’s just a terrible device the film uses to try to force shock from the audience.
Lovely, Still is a movie that demonstrates the destructive power of an inexperienced director. Bad decisions are obvious and plentiful, going so far as to turn Martin fucking Landau into a cartoon character. Fackler made a loud, clunky message movie and an all too precious romcom in one film, two strikes for any director, let alone a first time filmmaker. The forced message either negates the entire movie or turns the characters into manipulative pricks. Nothing was thought out here, it’s lazy and offensive filmmaking. Writing about a subject so foreign with such a heavy hand shows a conceited outlook on the subject itself. And Fackler is painting with the broadest of strokes here, but then he turns around and asks for people to comment on his fine lines. In one of his many grand statements, Fackler has Robert give himself a gun to commit suicide with for Christmas. Seriously, Robert wraps a gun, puts a bow on it, and waits for Christmas day to shot himself in the face, and yet most Alzheimer’s patients don’t know what year it is. This is the subject Fackler has chosen himself to write about, a subject he clearly hasn’t thought through. Ignorance is bliss for a false film though.
The movie is peppered with Bright Eyes songs and a score stolen from Jon Brion, but it all sounds clear enough and the picture quality is equally passable. The extras refused to play on any DVD player I put them in, so I have no idea what’s going on there. Short of a three and a half hour explanation of the ending that involves time travel, it’s probably not worth your time.