The 24-hour Woman

on January 29, 1999 by Mike Kerrigan
   Grace Santos (Rosie Perez) has it all: a high-powered job producing a soaring morning TV show, a hunk of a husband who is also co-host of her program, and now she is about to have a baby. So why is her world falling apart? Maybe it's because she's only human.
   In a smart and sassy movie, director Nancy Savoca takes on the legend of the modern-day superwoman and dazzlingly reveals how everything comes with a price. She does it with esprit and elan but always with a great humanity.
   Taking her cue from the film's frantic, fictional television show "The 24-Hour Woman", Savoca and frequent collaborator Richard Guay--they are also married--lead us at breakneck speed through Grace's overburdened life. It's bad enough when her pregnancy is played out on screen day after day, but when she tries to return to work just five weeks after her daughter is born, we know something's got to give. And when it does, it is not only hilarious, but Savoca delivers some of the most biting satire of TV since "Network".
   As Grace, Perez finally gets the role she has been working toward for the last decade. It's a gutsy performance, full of raw-nerved pain and aching self doubt. She takes huge chances to pulls off some heroic comic moments.
   The very effective counterpoint to Grace is her new assistant Madeline, played by Marianne Jean-Baptiste ("Secrets and Lies"), a TV veteran who has taken time off to have three children. While she is at work, they are cared for by her reluctantly out-of-work husband. Madeline has stress and guilt too, but she deals with it differently.
   Patti Lupone is marvelous as Grace's obsessed executive producer (in a live TV hostage crisis, she calls CNN before the police). There is also great support from hot newcomer Diego Serrano and former MTV VJ Karen Duffy, who play the hosts of the mainly-for-women show.
   Savoca ("True Love," "Household Saints") has made her most accessible film, and has touchingly dedicated it to her mother, Maria Elvira Savoca. You have the feeling that, probably like her daughter, she was also a 24-hour woman.    Starring Rosie Perez, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Patti Lupone, Karen Duffy and Diego Serrano. Directed by Nancy Savoca. Written by Nancy Savoca & Richard Guay. Produced by Richard Guay, Larry Meistrich and Peter Newman. An Artisan release. Comedy/drama. Rated R for strong language. Running time: 93 min.
Tags: Starring Rosie Perez, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Patti Lupone, Karen Duffy, Diego Serrano, Directed by Nancy Savoca. Written by Nancy Savoca & Richard Guay. Produced by Richard Guay, Larry Meistrich, Peter Newman, Artisan release, Comedy drama

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