Monday, July 13, 2009

"Things You Can Tell by Just Looking at Her" (2000) - Movie Review

Rodrigo Garcia’s debut film becomes the starter for the kind of films he was about to make. He followed this with “Ten Tiny Love Stories” and the spectacular “Nine Lives”. He likes women for their beauty, the similarity, the differences and webs and webs of entanglement and complexity. Women is his inspiration and his films says how much of them shape the men around them. They seem to think otherwise but the control is within them and losing it to gain the love is thought as their part of the pain but they are wrong.

Five women and they have problems, as every one. Garcia loves those about these beauties. In a polished wooden floored house is Dr. Keener (Glenn Close) taking care of her mother (Irma St. Paule). She is awaiting a phone call from a fellow doctor, she likes. She is only met with the calls she is indifferent too. The loneliness in her is reeking out of these cozy house. There comes Christine (Calista Flockhart), a tarot card reader. A sophisticated doctor looking for answers in a fortune teller. This itself is a great cue for Christine to do a close called prediction about Dr. Keener. In my college years there was a junior girl whom I came to know as an expert in reading personalities through their handwriting. More than what she said about, it is the authority and confidence in reciting those that put me in amazement. She was in control and that was the most amazing thing more than her reading me well. Christine is not authoritative but confident. We know that her reading is not swaying away but cornering down Dr. Keener.

From a lonely self made woman, we go to Rebecca (Holly Hunter) another powerful self made woman. She has a boy cut and a slim tender body which we see her lying in bed while her lover (Gregory Hines) kisses her body. She comes across a homeless woman (Penelope Allen) outside her workplace where she works as a manager. Both smoke and in this case instead of Keener’s tarot card reader, Rebecca gets a lesson in judgment through honesty of this woman who calls her Nancy. In four of the five segments we see women getting old and in fear of the youth passed and the chances burned away. Here Rebecca learns she is pregnant, does not hesitate a bit to go for abortion. “Do you need to consult this with someone” asks the doctor (Roma Maffie) and her friend and she responds that the wife of him would not like that with a smile. Her sarcastic humour is the end to that contemplation.

Garcia likes this method of separating the prime characters and thereby providing enough detail about them completely. He is not fond of plot. He loves the people’s small gestures and the big letdowns. And the relationships with men are not the formulae. There is game but not the one we are aware of. Rebecca walks through the city and sees her employee Walter (Matt Craven) get in a bar. She goes and the immediate nature of their conversation suggests where the night is leading to. Earlier that day, the homeless woman calls her whore twice for which she reacts being hurt but continues being friendly with her. Next day after the night, the woman begins to assault her with words of judgment and Rebecca asks for more. She wants someone to look through her and see the flaws and infuriate inside on those sentences of whiplash.

While four of the segments were extremely affecting, the saddest of the four is the odd pick. May be the premise is a known depressant of an effect as such that it becomes a cliche even before it ventures. Christine the woman from the first segment is the caregiver for her lover Lilly (Valeria Galino). They talk about canaries and the first time they met as Lilly is on the verge of dying of cancer I presume. We are lost in these heard tragedies and deviate in the minds of thinking about the other women.

There is a heartwarming story of a mother (Kathy Baker) and a son (Noah Fleiss) and the dwarf neighbour Albert (Danny Woodburn) that moves across the street. The final story is about sisters Kathy (Amy Brenneman) and Carol (Cameron Diaz). Carol is blind and the dynamics of her getting a date (Walter coming again as the man jumping off his ladies after the first few dates) and how it affects Kathy is dealt with confusion of mixed feelings. Carol brings down Walter and Kathy sees naked Walter been playfully locked out by her sister. Carol tells a merciless comment “Go to my sister, you will do her a favor”. That pierces her. The next day Carol is stood up but Kathy gets a date but she does not tell Carol. What is this reactions? We do it all the time and hardly notice those small sacrifices, niceties and the sharpening unmerciful acts. Garcia finds those, collects and presents in segments.

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