SCREENED AT SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST FILM FESTIVAL
here’s an example where an ensemble cast actually works. i think it works because of two major points: the script is solid and it’s a comedy. ensemble comedies have less stress and less burden than ensemble dramas. with an ensemble drama you almost have to hit it out of the park because it’s like having a bunch of sluggers in the line up – if you don’t score 10 runs a game, you’re going to be a disappointment. here, though, the cast is full of non-comedian actors doing comic drama. by not comedian i mean none of the big names are seen as comic actors first. mcdormand, keener, aniston, and joan cusack head up the female dominated cast.
as a comedy the film is successful because a) the writing is sharp, candid and witty b) the actors, though not strictly known for their comic chops, do well with the material c) it’s relatable and fresh (because of its honesty). as a drama the film is also successful, though there was much less of a focus on this aspect. it works, though, because we like the characters because they make us laugh. often dramatic films forget that characters who make us laugh are just as sympathetic as characters who move us; not to mention the fact that it’s easier to draw a funny character than a heavy one. drawing a heavy one requires a greater balance between the sympathetic and the pathetic/maudlin. at any rate, these characters were true to life and likable because of their humor.
aniston plays the loser of the group and her character reminded me of jane adams’s frail character in happiness. mcdormand plays an incessantly peeved designer, cusack is the rich one, and keener plays arguably the most textured of the group. keener is a talent.Watched in theater Watched on TV