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Lovely, Still

Robert (Martin Landau), a lonely senior citizen working as a supermarket shelf stocker, comes home one December evening to find his front door open and a strange woman (Ellen Burstyn) in his living room. From this inauspicious start a relationship quickly develops.

Lovely, Still relies heavily on the time-tested skills and screen personae of these admirable old pros to keep us engaged in a rather simple, and thin, story of an autumnal romance. Or so it seems, until debuting director-writer Nicholas Fackler pulls the chair out from under us and effectively invalidates almost everything the film has given us for more than an hour. The transformation is a little like a combination of the writers O. Henry and Roald Dahl: Meanings are radically altered in the movie’s last quarter-hour, and darkened considerably, even if the sentimental tone is never completely abandoned.

Fackler drops at least a couple of hints, visual and oral, that things aren’t what they seem, but his movie’s early use of a warmly amusing tone—at least that’s the intention—may make the ultimate reordering of the nature of what’s been seen and heard too much for many people to process. Fackler’s purpose isn’t negligible or exploitative, but he hasn’t adequately controlled enough of his material.

—george sax

Watch the trailer for Lovely, Still

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