johnlink ranks SOME VELVET MORNING (2013)

I’ve been in non-stop play reading mode for the last month as I figure out what the heck I’m going to direct here for the next year or so. I stumbled across this movie, a two person film, written and directed by a playwright I respect: Neil LaBute. Despite thinking his words always read well on a page, I’ve never actually seen any of his work performed. I figured this Stanley Tucci/Alice Eve star vehicle would be a good entry into his stuff.

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I watched SOME VELVET MORNING (2013) on 12.11.14. It was my first viewing of the film.

The movie opens with Velvet (Alice Eve) listening to music on her couch in a tiny little red dress. Casual, relaxed. The doorbell rings. Standing there is Fred (Stanley Tucci), suitcases in arms. He tells her that he has finally left his wife of more than two decades. He tells her that he knows its been four years since they saw each other, but he still loves Velvet. She is cool to him. Not giving in. She is seeing other men. Soon, we realize, she is a prostitute. She has been seeing Fred’s son Chris, who is also married.

All of this happens in well written beats of varying degrees of danger and humor. Sometimes this is sharp, sometimes this is playful. There is a definite rhythm to this script, thanks to it happening in real time in a single location. The house has three floors and an outdoor patio, so they at least have a little bit of room to roam. But, ultimately, this is a movie in which two people fight and make up for 80 minutes over and over again,

It is entertaining, to a large degree. Tucci has some hammy moments, but there is a reason why. Eve is sometimes wooden (one professional critic argues that it looks like she got the script yesterday, which is a particularly dumb observation considering what happens in the film later), but she grows more comfortable and confidant as the film draws on.

There are two works-shaking moments in the last three minutes of this movie. After more than 75 minutes of angry dialogue, there is a flourish of activity. The first moment is shocking and horrifying. The second moment serves to pull the carpet out from everything we have just seen.

Without being too spoilery, it is that second revelation which both elevates and limits the movie. The last bit does provide contextual meaning to everything we have seen, giving the male/female dynamic that plays throughout a real jolt. On the other hand, it also undermines the overwritten nature of the entire film. The script doesn’t feel organic or natural, it has a certain style to it; one that someone who has read or seen writer/director Neil LaBute’s other work will recognize. The dialogue sometimes feels like it comes from a playwright rather than a character. Tucci masks this dynamic more than he doesn’t, but some of the passages (especially the non-sequitor observational bits) feels too rehearsed for what this thing is.

But there is no doubt that this is a solid movie. Some people like the small-cast, single-location, all-talking story. Personally, they work for me more than they don’t. Some of this movie feels repetitive, but the flow is so smooth from beat to beat that it is easy to watch. Eve and Tucci are an odd pairing, the power shifts don’t always feel genuine but rather feel like they are written to have taken place. Despite that, this is still easy to watch and interesting to digest.

SCORES

FILM: 5; MOVIE: 7; ACTING: 7; WRITING: 6

5+7+7+6+0=25

FINAL SCORE: 6.25 out of 10

 

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~ by johnlink00 on December 11, 2014.

One Response to “johnlink ranks SOME VELVET MORNING (2013)”

  1. Typical LaBute and I loved just about every second of it. If only he made more movies that were like this, and less like the Wicker Man. Good review John.

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