Lajos Koltai's adaptation of a Nobel Prize-winning memoir takes a unique look at life in a concentration camp.
Still, there are characters and scenes that stick with you, even if they never cohere into a whole, most of them involving the charming yet ever-enigmatic Keaton. Her two big scenes-with her son (Dermot Mulroney) and her husband (Craig T. Nelson)-are lessons in how to underplay that "bravely facing death" storyline. C+
Includes: Two commentary tracks, cast Q&A, several featurettes and deleted scenes.
You'll Like It If You Like: Sarah Jessica Parker, Diane Keaton, holiday family reunion movies.
Why do some movies make it and others vanish? This low-key, downbeat David Schwimmer drama played briefly in Philly last year, never hit New York at all and quietly slunk out of sight.
The small scale of DVD is a perfect way to discover the film's moody, character-centered appeal, as morosely involving as Schwimmer himself. He plays the title character: a depressed alcoholic struggling to hang on to his job and his kids as his ex-wife (Janeane Garofalo) alternately befriends and rejects him.
As the film starts, Duane's arrested for driving drunk with his young daughter in the back seat, and his life doesn't get much better as the story goes along. Shot in the gloomy damp of an Atlantic City November, the movie evokes the sad tone and shaggy plotting of a small 1970s drama, centered on a loser antihero and populated by vivid supporting characters.
Admirable for its lack of self-pity and false hope, Duane Hopwood remains defiantly unescapist. It's a small triumph of small-scale filmmaking, sustaining a consistent mood, skillfully matching setting to tone and never once taking the easy (or commercial) way out.
Every character on-screen, minor to major, is written and acted with commitment, including Garofalo (who's completely convincing in a straight dramatic role) and old TV talk show host Dick Cavett, who memorably embodies Duane's melancholy neighbor. A
Includes: Commentary track with Schwimmer and writer/director Matt Mulhern.
You'll Like It If You Like: Character-centered dramas, downbeat 1970s films, David Schwimmer, Janeane Garofalo.
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