Although at first warm and comfy, these Flannel Pajamas start to scratch after awhile

Flannel Pajamas

on November 15, 2006 by Francesca Dinglasan
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An astute and accurate-feeling account of the process of falling madly in -- and heartbreakingly out -- of love, Flannel Pajamas is a well-crafted and -acted piece that offers potential appeal as a modern-day Annie Hall in its unabashed deconstruction of a failed romance. Although most likely to click with an urban rather than widescale audience, scripter/director Jeff Lipsky's second feature shines on the strength of the familiarity and true-to-life sensibility depicted in the onscreen relationship.

The film follows the story of Stuart (Justin Kirk) and Nicole (Julianne Nicholson) from the very beginning of their love affair. With the benefit of instant sexual chemistry and easy-flowing conversation between them during a blind date, they hit it off immediately. Their fast and furious passion naturally evolves into a deep commitment that eventually includes an idyllic wedding and the blissful days of early marriage.

As Stuart and Nicole settle into the everyday life of matrimony, disagreements quietly set aside during the throes of their burgeoning love become more and more apparent with the passing months and years. She strongly desires children but instead compromises for a dog until he is ready to start a family. He, on the other hand, is career-oriented and ambitious about launching his own business in his field of musical and live theater marketing. Even more telling, the couple's discomfiture with the other important people in their respective lives starts to take its toll -- Stuart blames Nicole's emotional baggage on her family, whom she loves deeply, and distrusts her best friend, while Nicole becomes distraught by Stuart's unpredictable and volatile brother Jordan (Jamie Harrold).

Lipsky, who is better known for his background in indie film distribution (having co-founded October Films as well as Lot 47) rather than as a screenwriter, displays a veteran scripter's mastery in penning Flannel Pajamas. Rather than succumbing to the Hollywood tendency of grandiose revelations and overtly dramatic turns, the script lends an uncanny verisimilitude to its story by conveying that it's the mundane and nondescript troubles in a relationship that tend to cause its failure.

As a dialogue-driven and intimately complex film, Flannel Pajamas is certainly not for everyone. Deliberately expansive in its attempt to cover the entire arc of the lovers' relationship, the plot's progression could be improved by a good amount of editing. The voluminous tendency of the film, however, does not take away from its larger experience.

Kirk and Nicholson, moreover, not only effortlessly give voice to Lipsky's perceptive dialogue, the actors are also excellent in embodying the emotional and psychological highs and lows of the onscreen couple. Their performances work well in mirroring the understated intelligence that pervades Flannel Pajamas. Distributor: Gigantic Pictures
Cast: Justin Kirk, Julianne Nicholson, Rebecca Schull, Jamie Harrold, Chelsea Altman, Michelle Federer and Tom Bower
Director/Screenwriter: Jeff Lipsky
Producers: Jonathan Gray, Brian Devine and Jason Orans
Genre: Drama
Rating: Not rated
Running time: 124 min.
Release date: November 15, 2006 NY

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