Lovely and Amazing (2001) movie poster

(2001) dir. Nicole Holofcener
viewed: 01/11/03

Has film studies finally designated the “chick flick” as a genre? I mean, outside of the melodrama or other genres that have been classified as “women’s films” (I attempt to ask this question without inflecting them as much as possible) can it be classified as genre? Not that I am trying to start logging all of the necessary pieces to describe such a style or genre…I must admit that I do not see too many flicks that would fall into this speculative catergory anyway. Actually, if I had realized that this film was so aptly classified as such, I might have thought twice about renting it. but that is me…fulfilling a male stereotype.

Lovely and Amazing follows three sisters and their mother through a series of comic traumas that occur, pivoting around their mother’s botched plastic surgery experience. Its black comedy largely and it willingly roams into some “uncomfortable” themes. The characters largely are neurotic and verge heavily at times on the unlikeable, though I am not sure how unlikeable they are meant to be versus how unlikeable they seem.

The youngest sister, Annie (Raven Goodwin), is an eight-year-old adopted child, who, unlike the rest of the family, is African American. Director Nicole Holofcener posits Annie, who is somewhat overweight and quite a bit sassy, as potentially the only one of the family who is not completely neurotic.

The film is quite funny at points, and fairly all over the place covering so many characters and their multitudes of issues. In the end, I don’t know what Holofcener really thinks of her characters. They all suffer some major undoing based on their actions, which vary from a somewhat self-serving selflessness to a sympathetic statutory rape. Holofcener seems to undercut her characters’ sympathetic qualities, perhaps rendering them merely “pathetic”(?) It almost seems intentional, though its hard to say. Either way, the film’s characters’ love/hate relationship with themselves is thus passed on to the viewer…this viewer in particular.

And that ambivalence is directed also to the film itself. My sense is that at some level, that was the anticipated response, but who knows?

Eleanor liked it better than me, though I think she would agree about most of the rest of what I said.