In The Mood For Love: Our Review of ‘Lovely and Amazing’ on MUBI

Posted in What's Streaming? by - February 14, 2024
In The Mood For Love: Our Review of ‘Lovely and Amazing’ on MUBI

Critics billed Nicole Holofcener’s Lovely and Amazing as the body image indie and sure, that’s a big part of the film. One of its biggest plot points involves a woman, Jane Marks, getting surgery to lose weight. And by her side is one of her daughters, an actress named Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer). She has her own body image issues, which her boyfriend (James LeGros) is oblivious to. Because of this, she gets closer to a fellow actor (Dermot Mulroney) who does. There’s more to the film than the body, as it shows what else divides the family. Her other daughter Michelle (Catherine Keener) has a cheating husband (Clark Gregg) who is pushing her away from her struggling art practice.

All have a contentious relationship with Jane’s adoptive daughter, Annie (Raven Goodwin) who idolises Jane. Annie takes Jane’s insecurities as her own which, for a plus size Black girl, is dangerous to do. I write about rewatching films I review and I did that for this one. The scene where Jane is on the operating table shows some of its bad aspects but mostly it’s good ones. Despite calling Annie entitled, she talks about crying about what the latter will have to go through growing up. She does this while going through a weight loss operation that sends Annie a message that being fat is inherently bad.

A cynical way of looking at Lovely and Amazing is that it’s about oblivious people, making it an acquired taste. However, it also shows that loving yourself is the best way of showing your love to the people around you. Boilerplate stuff, sure, but these characters are living in a world that tells people, especially women, to hate themselves. In addition to that, this film’s re-release on platforms like MUBI exposes some important things that we forgot about the 2000s. Michelle, an unsuccessful adult in a family with a few other unsuccessful adults, is the same age as me now.

Subconsciously, to get back at Michelle’s cheating husband, she starts an affair with her underage boss (Jake Gyllanhaal). Younger generations have this moral high ground about plot points like this as if films always condoned these relationships. The film doesn’t paint Michelle as totally evil for it but sends signals about where it morally stands on her. For example, Michelle comes over to her boss’ room full of posters of nu-metal bands like Papa Roach. This shows Holofcener’s moral stance on her characters’ actions. With that, she also shows how fascinating and tragicomic human beings can possibly be.

Lovely and Amazing makes for the perfect Valentine’s counterprogramming and you can watch it on MUBI.

This post was written by
While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watches movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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