Lovely and Amazing Nicole Holofcener

Nicole Holofcener follows up her indie hit Walking and Talking with a chick flick that could be called Bitching and Crying. It centres around the neurotic and malformed relationships of a mother (Brenda Blethyn) and her three daughters (Catharine Keener, Emily Mortimer and young newcomer Raven Goodwin). Mother hen Jane Marks is a big-hearted woman who only wants the best for her children, and has filled a hole in her heart partly left by her grown children by adopting a young girl and more recently by having liposuction surgery. Eldest daughter Michelle (Keener, back to her neurotic self after sexy glam roles in recent films) is an aspiring artist who's much more accomplished at complaining about her mistreatment at the hands of an indifferent husband, and an even more indifferent art-buying public — she lashes out by judging everything in sight but herself. Her sister Elizabeth (Mortimer) is an up-and-coming actress who struggles with her own narcissism, seeing it alternately as a necessary component to her craft and another in a large pile of personal flaws that drive men away. The film — which writer-director Nicole Holofcener admits is semi-autobiographical — interweaves these relationships in a tale that intelligently examines the complexities of how these women miscommunicate and misunderstand themselves and each other. Its intimate subject matter should play better at home than on a big screen, where its subtle comedy is better suited. It features some smart writing and excellent performances across the board, but remains a giggle-into-your-hankie film of sentimental sensitivity. Extras: brief cast and director interviews. (Lion's Gate)