The 24 Hour Woman

1999, Movie, R, 93 mins


It's a pleasure to see Rosie Perez in a role that doesn't rest on her ability to play a foul-mouthed hot tamale: As cable TV producer Grace Santos she's a smooth professional who generally exhibits grace under pressure (one of the film's working titles) even as her life spirals out of control in the wake of her unplanned pregnancy. Grace is married to aspiring actor Eddie (Diego Serrano), whose current gig is hosting The 24 Hour Woman, the scrappy cable show Grace produces. In a bit of spontaneous on-air banter, his cohost (Karen Duffy) reveals that Eddie's going to become a father, and viewer response is so strong that Grace's pregnancy becomes the focal point of the next seven months of shows. The 24 Hour Woman prospers and even ends up on network TV, but real-life 24-hour woman Grace is on the verge of a meltdown. Writer/director Nancy Savoca has always had a sharp eye for the details that speak volumes: Tiny Grace's look of dismay as an on-air weigh-in reveals that she's topped 150 pounds ("A very healthy weight at this stage," the requisite maternity expert coos cluelessly), the childless coworkers who sneer at "mommy hours," the glossy self-righteousness of a pop-psychologist (Melissa Leo) who dumps a truck load of guilt on working mothers, the well-meaning relatives who always say exactly the thing that makes Grace want to burst into tears. But the whole subject feels a little dated, not because it's much easier to combine work and family than it ever was, but because daytime TV, women's magazines and self-help books have talked the subject to death. Because the movie's charms are minor (and its technical aspects are sometimes a little unpolished), it might be best appreciated on the small screen. Lifetime cable should be calling. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh

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