She’s So Lovely

A streamlined, sometimes affecting Hollywood studio version of a maverick independent script by the late John Cassavetes, this 1997 film offers a fascinating glimpse at what Cassavetes was from the vantage point of what he wasn’t. Sean Penn (his choice for the lead ten years ago) stars as a crazy low-life city brawler deeply in love with his pregnant wife (Robin Wright Penn). One of his jealous rages gets him committed to a mental asylum for ten years, and by the time he gets out his wife has married John Travolta (who’s the best reason for seeing this movie), had a couple more kids, and moved to the suburbs. Nick Cassavetes (John’s son) is the director, though without the luxury of final cut enjoyed by his father on all his own features, and the brassy in-your-face music and ‘Scope framing both seem antithetical to the father’s style. Most of the characters (also including Harry Dean Stanton, Debi Mazar, and James Gandolfini), irrational and ineffable, are recognizable denizens of John Cassavetes’s world, though the way they’re sometimes pressed into sitcom routines robs them of some of their potential density. Not really a Cassavetes movie, but worth seeing anyway. (JR)

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