I finally saw this early '70's gem the other night, thank gawd for Netflix instant view. It's about a guy who rejected the easy choices that society and family wanted him to make. He's living life on his terms, as much as that's possible, when he hears his father is gravely ill. He goes home to see him and the rest of his family and while there he sees that he made the right choice back when he decided to leave in the first place. This is an oddly compelling film full of naturalistic acting, especially by Nicholson, who was rightly nominated for an Academy Award for this role. But it's also an unsettling portrait of family weirdness and learning to let go of the people in your life who my love you the most but who also hold you back the most. It's also chock full of iconic 1970's actors including Karen Black, looking blazing hot but saddled with the worst ever southern accent, Fanny Flagg and Sally Struthers, in their first film roles, and Ralph Waite, the future poppa Walton. I can see how this film has earned it's place in the modern film cannon, I highly recommend it.
Sarah Polley is lovely. She's a great actor and a fine director. Stephen Rea is a very good soulful looking actor. They are both in this creepy film about an older guy who digs shacking up with younger women. We're supposed to be happy for all involved because it's all consensual and Rea's character teaches them how to grow as people and as artists, but I found it to be super creepy. And I found the only honest character in it to be Jean Smart's vindictive matriarch who confronts Rea's character after she finds out her daughter is sleeping with him, this is by far the best performance Smart has turned in. The whole film feels so much like a love letter to the 1990's, it was made in 1999, that it made me kind of nostalgic for the days when we thought multiculturalism and world music was going to help us conquer everything. Alas, I can't recommend this film, but as I said, Ms Polley is lovely in it, as are the other women who were bedded by Rea's character.
Dr. Monkey Hussein Monkerstein