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Living Out Loud Review

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A nurse faces up to life in Manhattan without her philandering husband.

★★★★

Richard LaGravenese established himself as one of Hollywood's top scriptwriters, breaking through with Terry Gilliam's marvellous Fisher King, and penning such projects as Clint Eastwood's The Bridges Of Madison County along the way. For his directorial debut, LaGravenese locates himself squarely back in New York, presenting a trio of delicately crafted characters whose lives interweave subtly, sometimes poignantly illustrating the ways in which chance moments become defining events in all our lives.

Judith (Hunter) is a nurse, facing up to life on the Upper East Side without her philandering husband Bob (Donovan). Her attempts at a single life lead her to a local jazz club, where Liz (Latifah) is the resident chanteuse. Slowly the two become friends, but a more important friendship develops between Judith and the lift operator in her building, Pat (DeVito). He has recently lost his daughter, and the tender friendship they develop hints at love, without ever quite reaching it.

More than anything, LaGravenese is an excellent writer, capable of imbuing characters with great depths, in the simplest of ways, while also something of a whiz with knockout one-liners. As a director, however, he is less certain, allowing the film to meander too much at times, occasionally veering into the odd unwanted or unneeded scene, such as Hunter's bizarre dance on ecstasy.

More than anything though, this is a film about performances and features simply some of the best seen in years. Hunter is superb, both light and lost, while DeVito has never been better.

Not the kind of movie that'll change your life, but certainly one that will make it a better place for a while as you watch two sad and lonely people - elevator man Danny DeVito and rich divorcee Holly Hunter - shake off the past and get a new life. DeVito is convincingly serious and Hunter supremely vulnerable in an offbeat feelgood romance, and their two superb performances make this always touching, occasionally funny yet never sentimental.

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