'Lovely and amazing,' says Jane (Blethyn) of Elizabeth (Mortimer), the second of her three daughters: a touching tribute considering Elizabeth, an actress, is obsessed by a wobble on her upper arms. Elizabeth's not alone in equating appearance with success and fulfilment. Jane hopes liposuction will improve her life. Her tubby adopted eight-year-old wishes her black skin were white, has her hair straightened, and comfort eats whenever she can. And her eldest, Michelle (Keener), is equally lost and self-absorbed, failing to sell her art, unsure at 36 of her role in life, and sleeping in her own daughter's bed rather than with her husband. Michelle's unhappiness manifests itself in abrasiveness and denial (admirably, Keener never softens), though her endearing 17-year-old boss (Gyllenhaal) thinks she's pretty hot. The poignant relationships between these entirely plausible characters reveal that what defines us best is not always of our choosing, while what's ridiculous to some is cherished by others. Observed without corny resolutions and paced to allow for reflection, the film is understated but spot on.
Cast and crew
James Le Gros