Used People

Shirley MacLaine plays a Jewish widow with two unhappy daughters (Kathy Bates and Marcia Gay Harden) who’s wooed by an Italian widower (Marcello Mastroianni) in Queens in 1969. This delightful, affecting, and offbeat comedy-drama, written by actor Todd Graff (The Abyss, Five Corners) and adapted from his own off-Broadway work, The Grandma Plays, has been directed with verve and sensitivity by Beeban Kidron (Antonia and Jane), who’s done most of her previous work for British TV but seems perfectly at home here. The relatively uncommon virtue on full display here is a sense of character, which also extends to the heroine’s mother (Jessica Tandy), her mother’s best friend (Sylvia Sidney), and one of her grandsons (Matthew Branton), but the filmmakers are no slouches when it comes to period ambience either. This is a good deal less obvious and more original than Moonstruck–one of many reasons why I prefer it. (900 N. Michigan)

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