Chasing Amy

on April 04, 1997 by Lael Loewenstein
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   Best known for his award-winning debut film "Clerks," Kevin Smith returns to form after the dismal "Mallrats" with a film that is at once sensitive, funny and insightful. A contemporary romance with several twists, "Chasing Amy" is one of the most carefully rendered portraits of gender relations in recent years. The third installment in Smith's New Jersey trilogy, "Chasing Amy" eclipses anything Smith has done so far and displays an impressive capacity for depth.
   Holden (an excellent Ben Affleck, also in "Going All the Way") and his best friend Banky ("Mallrats'" Jason Lee), are twentysomething comic artists who pass their time attending comic book conventions, dallying in romance and goofing around. All of that changes when Holden meets the lovely and coquettish Alyssa ("Sleep With Me's" Joey Lauren Adams), who seems just as taken with him as he is with her. But when Alyssa informs Holden that she is a lifelong lesbian, he finds himself confronted with a difficult challenge: Can he be friends--and nothing more--with a woman he clearly loves?
   The jealousy, confusion, and wounded emotions that come into play here are tightly woven and deftly handled. When Holden confesses his feelings for Alyssa, Affleck's integrity and Smith's heartfelt dialogue meld beautifully. Equally authentic is Alyssa's subsequent revelation of her feelings for Holden. That is Smith's real triumph in "Chasing Amy:" Although he occasionally and regrettably seeks comfort in the scatological, bottom-of-the-barrel humor that is his trademark, he is capable of intelligent, searching dialogue that reveals the complexity and sensitivity of his characters' rich inner lives. Smith also excels as a director: Having by now achieved a comfort level with his familiar coterie of actors, he renders them as fully three-dimensional characters whose growth and maturation is not only believable but also refreshing. Starring Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams and Jason Lee. Directed and written and directed by Kevin Smith. Produced by Scot Mosier. A Miramax release. Drama. Not yet rated. Running time: 105 min.
Tags: Ben Affleck, Kevin Smith, emotions, sensitivity, humor, romance, New Jersey, Joey Lauren Adams, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Scott Mosier, drama, comic book, lesbian
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