November 10, 2010
Review - " Lovely, Still " - (on DVD) By Roland Hansen
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In its heartwrenching reality as well as its surreal fantasy portrayal, Lovely, Still works on a lot of levels. On one hand, it
works as a near-textbook transference of the “puppy-love” concept normally reserved for the youth-obsessed demographic.
Conversely, it is also a study in the end-of-life issues that ultimately nearly all people face who live to experience old age.
Martin Landau fits with ease into his role as Robert Malone. A beguiled and ultimately timeless figure whose grandfather-like
presence serves as an anchoring point for the film, Robert stumbles with an endearing innocence through the first two
scenes. It is through his eyes that we see the majority of the story unfold, however reliable his perspective may or may not
Landau registers everything in a kind of slow motion, which is funny and lovable and slightly unnerving. Is he all there? When
Mary moves into the neighborhood and instantly courts him, he is sweetly befuddled; he could be the 90-year-old virgin. On
their dates, they’re like enraptured children, and Fackler gives these scenes a Christmas-storybook feel, with swirling snow
and a soundtrack of carols.
It seems like a heartwarming movie that simply, yet beautifully, celebrates love found at last, but the movie does have a huge
twist towards the end that takes it to the next level. The twist makes all the small details in the beginning of the movie (Mary’s
desperate frustration at not being able to fill a prescription, Robert’s weird and eerie dreams that wake him up) come into
The story shifts to lighter moments as well. Mike, a character originally perceived to be Robert’s boss at the store, is a
constant comedic foil through the film. His slightly askew take on modern selling and people-pleasing runs directly counter to
Robert’s new-found innocence. Additionally, Mary’s daughter is ably played by the always-bankable Elizabeth Banks. Her
portrayal of the perpetually worried daughter of an aging widow is at once brief and enthralling.
The movie celebrates love, and the beauty that can be found at any age, but it also celebrates how those who we quickly
disregard (senior citizens) are lovely, still. Landau, a well-seasoned actor, shines in his role as the increasingly complex
Robert Malone, and Burstyn is positively striking as the woman who unconditionally loves him. The romance between the two
is undeniably tender and will bring out a few tears even from the most cynical moviegoer. The exceptionally sweet story with
its subtle beauty is one that is a must-see, and will touch (and perhaps break) your heart regardless.
In the end, Lovely, Still is a haunting duet for two great actors who haven’t lost a step and have gained the most exquisite
lyricism. Not your conventional romance, but one that is beautiful enough to make you cry.
Directed By: Nicholas Fackler
Starring: Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn, Adam Scott, Elizabeth Banks
Robert (Martin Landau), a perennial bachelor, is surprised when his
new neighbor Mary (Ellen Burstyn) asks him out on a date. The
unexpected romance blooms until Martin's fear and jealousy take the
couple down an unexpected path.
It’s Christmastime in a small snowy town, and Robert Malone (played
heartbreakingly by Martin Landau) is all alone and set in his daily
routine. He lives by himself in a house with no pictures on the walls
and barely any furniture, and even puts a solitary gift under his
Christmas tree for himself. He shuffles off each day to a job in an
Omaha supermarket, where he appears to do little but sketch and yet
is treated with affection by the over-enthusiastic manager.
A widow named Mary (Ellen Burstyn) and her daughter Alex (Elizabeth
Banks) have just moved in across the street, and Mary, who has been
noticing Robert since she first saw him in the grocery store, invites
Robert out to dinner. Robert, who it seems hasn't had a date since
the early 1950’s, finally has a reason to put a smile on his face.
The two start dating, and Robert is a changed man. He can’t believe
that he’s finally found love, especially so late in his life, and he doesn't
want to let her go. The audience is taken on a visually pleasing ride
as the two find out more about each other and themselves, relive their
childhoods, and find the light in their lives when it had previously
seemed like it was extinguished forever.