Film-Forward Review: [LOVERBOY]

Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Paul (Dominic Scott Kay) & Emily (Kyra Sedgwick)
Photo: THINKFilm

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Directed by: Kevin Bacon.
Produced by: Daniel Bigel, Michael Mailer, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick & Avi Lerner.
Written by: Hannah Shakespeare, based on the novel by Victoria Redel.
Director of Photography: Nancy Schreiber.
Edited by: David Ray.
Music by: Michael Bacon.
Released by: THINKFilm.
Country of Origin: USA. 84 min. Rated: R.
With: Kyra Sedgwick, Dominic Scott Kay, Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon, Campbell Scott & Marisa Tomei.

Emily (Kyra Sedgwick) never wanted a house or husband, just a child. As she intones in her voiceover, she was put on this earth to give her son life. In the film’s wickedly funny first third, sex bomb Emily schtups her way across America, picking up any man she sets her sights on, rationalizing that out of many men, her child will be born. She’s Samantha Jones with a maternal streak.

Among the many flashbacks lies the reason for her determination. Through her parents, she witnesses the “exclusivity of true love.” As played by director Kevin Bacon and Marisa Tomei decked out as ‘70s synthetic clotheshorses, they can’t keep their hands off each other while they neglect their daughter. The sullen 10-year-old Emily turns to the hip David Bowie-loving Mrs. Harker, played by a luminous Sandra Bullock, beautifully backlit like an angel. It’s from this neighbor that Emily learns that, deep down inside, boys are afraid of girls (a formative credo that later becomes the secret to Emily’s bedroom success). Fast forward to the present: Emily sequesters her son in their home, homeschooling him (more in the liberal arts than reading, writing and arithmetic) and chiding him for wanting to play with children his own age, “Would a god go into a playground created by others?” She experiences the childhood she never had through her son, taking to their imaginary games with more abandonment than Paul does.

Like the novel, the first-person narration breezily propels the story forward, but the film runs out of steam by revealing too much, too soon. Unlike the book, it’s clear from the beginning that Emily’s off-kilter. Playing games with her son, she’s like a gleeful, but demented, Disney princess, chirpy and scarily upbeat, and her sentiment towards her son, “You must know you are the one true love of my life,” is evident enough without having to be voiced. By the midway point, there really isn’t anything about Emily that the viewer doesn’t know. This is coupled with Sedgwick’s performance. The actress wears her emotions on her sleeve, never concealing Emily’s anger and paranoia.

Yet with this offbeat role, Sedgwick continues to build a formidable resume, after having recently portrayed a weary and brittle woman in The Woodsman and her sultry turn in Personal Velocity. Both of these characters had been either sexually or physically abused, yet there’s not an ounce of pity in either performance. With her level of take-no-prisoners intensity, she’s venturing onto French actress Isabelle Huppert’s turf. Because of Emily’s singular logic, she’s a kindred spirit to many of Huppert’s complex characters. Kent Turner
June 16, 2006



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