Sunday, December 5, 2010

Music From Another Room (1998) [PG-13] ***+

A film review by flawlessfrogs for “Or as They Say in Hollywood” on July 26, 2011.

Movies are meant to be entertaining. However, sometimes a film is so bad, it's actually hard to watch it. Music From Another Room was one of these films. The film opens with a Thanksgiving dinner twenty-five years earlier. At the end of the night, the party's hostess, Grace (Brenda Blethyn, Pride & Prejudice) goes into labor. Five-year-old Danny helps deliver the baby girl. He announces that he will marry the baby and it is revealed that Danny and his widower father moved to England shortly thereafter. The film then skips ahead twenty-five years. Danny (Jude Law, Gattaca, Sherlock Holmes) returns to New York and happens to stumble upon Grace and her now grown daughter, Anna (Gretchen Mol, Manchester by the Sea)'s home. He falls in love with Anna (though she does not reciprocate his feelings) and soon becomes entwined in their dysfunctional family's problems. While this is an interesting premise, the film's plot then becomes confusing and broken; scenes are not well-explained and the different character plots jump around.

Not only was the plot confusing and under-developed but it was also poorly acted. While Anna is supposed to be beautiful, fun, and confident, she comes off as annoying and overly conventional. She leaves the audience wondering how Danny could ever fall for her. The different plot lines, involving Anna's blind sister, dying mother, and paranoid sister-in-law, do not fit together and sometimes fail to make sense. The humor is often lost at awkward moments or is just not funny. The actual comic relief came in the form of an unintentionally hilarious (at one point, he slaps his forehead and repeatedly says Stupid Jesus) salsa dancer/dishwasher named Jesus, who elopes with Anna's blind sister, Nina (Jennifer Tilly, Monster's Inc.).

Overall, Music From Another Room was tedious and oversentimental. If you are willing to overlook all of the film's issues, you might enjoy it. [Reviewer’s rating: * ½ out of 4 stars]

Blogger's comment: I have to agree with the film critic. Given the supporting cast, which included Martha Plimpton, Jeremy Piven, Jon Tenney, Jane Adams and Bruce Jarchow, this is yet another example of a writer/director (in this case Charlie Peters) having a good concept, but failing to translate it into a tight shooting script and professional direction. Apparently the film industry agrees. In the twenty years since 1998 Peters has had only two screenwriting credits, and has never directed again.

Labels:  comedy, drama, romance
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