- READER REVIEWS
The Good Night
(No longer in theaters)
Jake Paltrow (father Bruce, mother Blythe Danner, sister Gwyneth) is another showbiz-royalty kid who thinks he’s a screenwriter and director, and, while I resent him for his overprivileged existence, I think he might be, too. His comedy The Good Night takes familiar (embarrassingly familiar) male-angst material and makes it go loop-de-loop, so that the jokes hit you from behind and underneath while the bleakness smacks you in the face. Painful, yes—but that’s part of the masochistic fun.
It helps that the male leads are Brits who can lighten the mood without caricaturing the emotions. Martin Freeman (of the British The Office) is Gary, an ex–rock musician stuck in a frosty live-in relationship with Dora, played by a deglamorized Gwyneth wearing long dark hair like a shroud. The title alludes to his time with his other girlfriend, a hotcha Spanish goddess (Penélope Cruz) who slinks through his lyrical dreams. To know her more intimately, Gary takes up with a manic lucid-dreams guru (Danny DeVito); the poor cluck thinks the answers to life’s questions are in his sleeping brain’s glorified perfume commercials.
Cruz shows up in the flesh, and she’s wonderfully tart and funny: Her character sizes up Gary’s neediness (and jealousy) so fast that she’s gone before you finish gasping. The other great life force is Simon Pegg (of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz) as Gary’s inexhaustibly sleazy mate Paul, his lack of shame the perfect foil for his best friend’s surfeit. My lone reservation about The Good Night is that the central relationship, between Gary and Dora, is utterly and completely loveless—spent. So when Gary begins to gravitate back to her in his dreams, it’s hard to cheer him on. It’s hard to cheer Gwyneth on, too, as brave a stunt as this is. Who wants to see such a delightful actress close herself down? In Emily Nussbaum’s interview with Gwyneth (see page 104), Paltrow says she was physicalizing her “New York Jewish half.” Oh, Gwyneth, I could tell you stories about New York Jewish girls that would send your willowy blonde Wasp half to Bellevue.