The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, September 9, 2001

When men invoke womenís wrath
Ervell E. Menezes

ASHLEY Judd is one of the bright new talented actresses who exhibited her histrionic talents in thrillers and whodunits like Double Jeopardy and Kiss the Girls. In Someone Like You, she shows that she is equally at home in a romantic comedy. But it is really the clever handling of the subject by Tony Goldwyn that makes for such a delightful entertainer.

Thereís no one like her: Ashley Judd (right) adds life to Someone Like You
Thereís no one like her: Ashley Judd (right) adds life to Someone Like You

Jane Goodale (Judd) is a young woman living in New York who is determined to succeed both professionally as a talent booker for a popular talk show as well as romantically. So when the showís dashing new executive producer Ray Brown (Greg Kinnear) begins to woo her she is on cloud nine. But Brown soon cools off and Jane is in the dumps. Also homeless, because in the course of the romance she gave up her apartment.

To make Ray jealous she moves in with colleague Eddie Alden (Hugh Jackman) who has a reputation of being a casanova and whom she has once told "you make me lose faith in human nature." Livid about men in general and Ray in particular, Jane exchanges notes with menís magazine editor Liz (Marissa Tomei) and this gives birth to an anti-men column that becomes very popular.


Men are like bulls, they feel. They never mate with the same cow. Based on a novel Animal Husbandry by Laura Zigman script-writer Elizabeth Chandler churns out an exciting drama where man is at the receiving end of womenís wrath. "Sooner or later we all become old cows," is the womenís refrain. So what do they do about it?

Chat show host Diane Roberts (Ellen Barkin) is not to be left out of this rigmarole. It is a case of in-office liaisons and the intricate plot takes a dramatic turn. Are men to be trusted at all? Or are they a necessary evil? Balanced on a knife-edge, the narrative gathers pace in the latter half and there are red herrings. May be pink. But it is Ashley Judd who lifts the film appreciably. Whether hiding her hurt feelings or doing her cheer leader act or even falling in love she does it with rare zest that has come to be associated with her.

Greg Kinnear who was so impressive in As Good As it Gets is rather restrained but it is Hugh Jackman who gains in stature with each passing frame. Marissa Tomei of My Cousin Vinny fame seems wasted in a supporting role but Ellen Barkin more than makes her presence felt.

Someone Like You is one heck of a romantic comedy. Not to be missed.

But Sweet November is a romantic bore. There was a 1968 film of the same name with Anthony Newley and Sandy Dennis in it and that was much better. Whatís even worse is that it is a subject with tremendous scope but director Pat OíConnor makes a hash of it.

Nelson Moss (Keanu Reeves) and Sara Deever (Charlize Theron) have nothing in common except a gruelling hour spent in the Department of Motor Vehicles. "I have a special ability to help men who have problems ... you are a walking case study," Sara tells Nelson and seems hell bent on playing the psychiatrist.

It is as though she anticipates Nelsonís problem, for shortly afterwards he loses his job, the company car and his girl friend leaves this high-profile ad executive who until then was known to say, "I worry, because worry about losing keeps you winning." Now Sara has Nelson more to herself. "Be my November," she tells him.

But what is Saraís problem" Why is she changing partners each month. She has a secret obviously. Kurt Voelkarís screenplay is weak and virtually kills any element of suspense. And director OíConnorís spacing is terrible. Keanu Reeves is more like a robot and when he falls in love it isnít very convincing. When he pops the question it is more like a funeral oration.

Charlize Theron is marginally better. That she is beautiful we saw in The Generalís Daughter. But whether she is as talented as she is beautiful remains to be seen. In this film she does give traces of it but she could have done much better. Jason Issacs provides a good cameo in this thoroughly avoidable love story.

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