(No longer in theaters)
Dana Altman, Lars Knudsen, James Lawler, Jack Turner, Jay Van Hoy
Sep 10, 2010
Watching Nicholas Fackler’s Lovely, Still is up there with my weirdest experiences at the movies in years, though spelling out why would deprive you of a similar—and powerful—upending. Martin Landau, looking a decade older than his 82 years, scrutinizes his white face in the bathroom mirror, the camera fixed on its bony ridges and sunken planes. His Robert Malone 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 manager (the wonderfully silly Adam Scott). Landau registers everything in a kind of Stan Laurel slow motion, which is funny and lovable and slightly unnerving. Is he all there? When a pretty widow, Mary (Ellen Burstyn), moves into the neighborhood with her daughter (Elizabeth Banks) 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’s a bit like ingenue Naomi Watts’s dazzled response to Hollywood in the first half of David Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, and there are other Lynchian touches, too, transitions in which the screen turns red or blue and comes alive with sparks that look like firing synapses. And the dissonances continue. 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.