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Davis' acting realistic, but cannot overcome bad script


Directed by Martha Coolidge.

Written by Todd Graff.

Starring Geena Davis, James Gandolfini, Aida Turturro, Philip Bosco, and Stephen Rea.

By Gretchen Koot
Staff Reporter

This was almost a good movie. Unfortunately, even an admirable performance by Geena Davis couldn't overcome Todd Graff's awkward script. The movie couldn't decide what to be about. In the trailers, it's being made to look as though it's a female bonding movie about best friends sharing the joys and sorrows of life. In the actual film, however, the friendship of Angie and her best friend, Tina (Aida Turturro), is barely explored. Although the focus of this movie wavers, it is primarily about a woman named Angie and the effects of unplanned motherhood on her life.

Geena Davis plays Angie, a young working woman from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Davis brings a feeling of restlessness and uncertainty to Angie that immediately drew me into her character. It is seen early on in her relationship with her long time plumber boyfriend, Vinnie (James Gandolfini). They are comfortable with each other as only long time lovers can be, but although the rough edged Vinnie adores

Angie, it is clear that Angie wants more. After Angie discovers she is pregnant, Vinnie is ecstatic and begins making wedding plans. Angie goes along with them but her discomfort is plain. In a marvelous scene at Angie's baby shower, some of the other women recount the wonders of child bearing including water retention and breast milk-stained blouses. It's funny, and yet when the camera captures Angie's eyes as she escapes the party, we see her doubt and fear.

Eventually Angie owns up to her feelings, and after beginning an affair with Noel (Stephen Rea), a Manhattan lawyer, she ends her relationship with Vinnie.

Here the tension slackens, and although there are some funny scenes, they seem to be strung together. Noel is the professional man that Angie has always wanted, but it is hard to see what Angie really feels for Noel. His intentions although unstated are obvious. He is just out to have a good time, and it seems that Angie realizes this. Their relationship does not help us understand Angie or the difficulties she is facing any better. Thus their scenes together, while often humorous, seem out of place. They take the focus away from Angie's inner struggles and diffuse the power of the film. After the birth of Angie's child, Noel simply disappears. In a brief scene, Angie confronts him and he admits his lack of commitment to her. This comes across as something neither surprising nor important and again makes me wonder what Noel was doing in the movie.

After the birth, the loose ends in this movie really start to show. Some of Angie's actions are puzzling and seem to exist only to move the plot along. Jerry Goldsmith's otherwise good score becomes intrusive, demanding us to feel what we don't. The final scene is so manipulative and sappy that it fails to do more than produce a knee-jerk reaction. On top of this, the script forces Angie to deliver a corny moral message that sounds pasted on.

If this movie had been simply bad, it would have been less of a disappointment. There was certainly enough raw material for a great movie. The character of Angie felt real, and the events of her life were realistic and interesting. Unfortunately they were never made into a cohesive whole.