(WOMENSENEWS)–“Sleeping With Other People,” opening Sept. 11, neither delves deeply into the psychology of sexual addiction nor makes light of it. Instead it presents a well turned tale and appealing characters that feel real. As such this film, written and directed by Leslye Headland, puts a unique spin on the romcom. In it, Lainey (Alison Brie) and Jake (Jason Sudeikis) meet at a sex addicts support group. She’s a serial cheater. He’s an unmitigated womanizer. They’re trying to break bad habits but their attraction to each other is also obvious. Headland’s characters’ frank chats about sex are frankly entertaining. Their chemistry rules and their dialogue sizzles with sexual humor.
Other Sept. 11 Openers
“Meet the Patels” is filmmaker Geeta Patel’s clever and charming documentary about her family’s intervention in her brother Ravi’s relationship status. On a family trip back to India, Ravi Patel (yes, he’s the actor featured in “Scrubs”) agrees to try to find a wife the traditional way, by arranged marriage, a route espoused by his parents, who met that way and have been exceedingly happy. Ravi has just broken up with his non-Indian girlfriend because he’s afraid he can’t make a life with a woman who’s not of his culture. But after growing up in the United States, Ravi and Geeta have absorbed plenty of Western cultural values and behavior in school, at work and elsewhere. The film becomes a highly engaging cross-cultural adventure as Geeta follows Ravi through the paces of Indian-style speed dating sessions and other forums for pairing prospective brides and grooms. Insightful and delightfully entertaining. You’ll love the Patels.
“The Perfect Guy” is not on my recommended list. Think “Fatal Attraction,” but with reverse roles. Sanaa Lathan plays Leah, a successful career women who, after breaking up with her long standing beau (Morris Chestnut), takes up with a new suitor (Michael Ealy) who seems perfect. But he soon reveals himself to be obsessive, abusive and threatening to her in a whole catalog of ingeniously insidious ways. She turns to her old beau for help getting rid of him. Sanaa Lathan holds her own as the film’s lead, but her character’s fate and future are, story-wise, cards held in the hands of men. This damsel in distress theme – even when presented with an appealing female lead, contemporary style and hipster twists – is truly tired. The film won’t put you to sleep, for sure, but it might give you nightmares.
“Goodnight Mommy” is another scarer with a strong female protagonist, but this one calls for a caveat. It’s well made and compelling, but not a family film. This is the stuff to bring on nightmares for children of all ages. Here, a woman whose head is wrapped in bandages following face-changing surgery returns home to her two young twin sons. They soon begin to suspect that she’s not their real mother, but someone else; a sinister stranger who basically terrorizes them. They try to figure it out. So will you. No spoilers. The performances by Susanne Wuest as the woman and Lukas and Elias Schwarz as the boys are terrifyingly convincing. Written and directed by the Austrian filmmaking team of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala; in German, with English subtitles.
“The Visit,” M. Night Shyamalan’s latest reality twister, has a single mom (Kathryn Hahn) packing off her daughter Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and son Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) for a week of getting to know their Nana and Pop Pop. These are her parents. She has not seen them for many years and they turn out to be very freaky; and dangerous. Actually vile. Pop Pop cautions the kids not to peep out of their room after 9:30 p.m., and when they do, twisted and terrifying reality breaks loose. Mom is informed about the weirdness via Skype and Becca, an aspiring filmmaker, records the aberrant behavior on video – so there’s a “Blair Witch” twist to Shyamalan’s style. The film has some comic relief that heightens the moments of scare and shock. Don’t see it unless you’re in need of a repulsive experience.
Stay tuned for more September openers.
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