leave a comment --Ken Fox
Writer-director Bart Freundlich's third misfire after his acclaimed MYTH OF FINGERPRINTS (1997) is really a loose assemblage of scenes depicting the changing romantic fortunes of two New York City couples. It does, however, feature a terrific ensemble cast that nearly makes it worthwhile. Rebecca (Julianne Moore, Freundlich's real-life spouse) is a successful actress whose husband, Tom (David Duchovny), has given up his soul-sucking job in advertising — he's apparently the guy who gave the world "Got Milk?" — to be a full-time Mr. Mom to their young son and daughter. The career change, however, has left him feeling directionless, and an ungratified libido has left him turning to the cold comfort of porn. Rebecca's brother, Tobey (Billy Crudup), is a cynical, death-obsessed magazine writer who, aside from the occasional article, seems more concerned with moving his car on alternate-side-of-the-street parking days than actively pursuing a career. He lives with Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal), his girlfriend of seven years who works for a magazine but dreams of one day publishing her own children's book. Her true ambition, however, is to get married and have kids, and she is beginning to suspect that Tobey, who avoids the mere mention of the subject like it were death itself, may not be the man to help her fulfill that dream. While Elaine considers ending her relationship, Rebecca begins rehearsals for a new play due to open at Lincoln Center, leaving an unattended Tom alone to risk everything on a purely sexual fling with Pamela (Dagmara Dominczyk), a young, divorced mom. Told mostly through a series of sharply written scenes that keenly reflect life in New York City — granted, it's the New York of the mall-ified West Village that few natives can even afford — the film heads further south the closer it gets to its absurd, farcical climax at Lincoln Center, one that is painfully at odds with the rest of the film. The cast, however, is great — Crudup and Duchovny in particular share a fun chemistry that's just toilet-obsessed enough to be absolutely believable. This makes the dropped subplots, such as Elaine's pending book deal with a swank lesbian editrix (Ellen Barkin), all the more regrettable, if only because it would have given that fine supporting cast a little more to do.