She's So Lovely

on August 27, 1997 by Lael Loewenstein
   Sean Penn's performance in "She's So Lovely" earned him the Best Actor award at Cannes. Other than Penn's portrayal of Eddie, a half-mad alcoholic who's crazy in love with his wife Maureen (real-life wife Robin Wright Penn), there's very little redeeming about "She's So Lovely." Scripted by the late John Cassavetes and directed by his son Nick ("Unhook the Stars"), the film feels like the cinematic equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting; it's as if scenes of doomed, crazy people arguing were splattered on the screen in random succession. While John Cassavetes' cinema verite style might have been better suited to adapting his own script, in Nick's relatively untested hands serious scenes are so overdone they become unintentionally funny.    As the film begins, a drunk and pregnant Maureen is searching frantically for her husband Eddie. Going from bar to bar--and getting raped along the way--she eventually finds him in a local seedy pub. Eddie, who suffers from blackout spells, returns with Maureen to their fleabag boarding house. They fight, make love, go dancing, then fight again--until Eddie goes so far off the deep end that Maureen has him committed. Cut to 10 years later: Maureen is now married (apparently happily) to Joey (John Travolta), a wealthy businessman, and living in suburban comfort with their three kids. But that picture of domestic bliss is shattered when Maureen gets news of Eddie's release and decides to go back to him, because, as she tells Joey, "I love him more." When Eddie pays a visit, Joey reacts violently. Soon Eddie, two friends (Debi Mazar and Harry Dean Stanton), Maureen and Joey are tumbling, screaming, and wielding guns on Joey's front lawn as oddly romantic music plays in the background.    Penn's fiercely passionate performance aside, just about everyone in "She's So Lovely" overacts egregiously. Wright Penn's overdone New York accent brings to mind Barbra Streisand in "Funny Girl"--surely not the intended association--and Travolta seems to be mocking any number of his tough guy performances. Production notes would have one believe "She's So Lovely" is a "romantic fable," but most viewers will be so turned off by these despicable, selfish characters that "morality tale" is closer to the truth. Starring John Travolta, Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn. Directed by Nick Cassavetes. Written by John Cassavetes. Produced by Rene Cleitman. A Miramax release. Drama. Rated R for strong language and some violence. Running time: 100 min. Screened at Cannes. Won the Best Actor prize
Tags: John Travolta, Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn, Nick Cassavetes, Rene Cleitman, Miramax, Eddie, Maureen, black out, violence

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