This town drama from Ted Demme centres on former classmates coming together for their 10-year reunion. Scott Rosenberg's (Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead
) script thoughtfully passes over the usual grumblings of young adults who can't believe they still live in the same snowbound town. They accept--even welcome--their blue-collar jobs, whether ploughing snow or cutting hair. Willie (Timothy Hutton), the lone wanderer, returns to his listless house in a state of flux, the piano-bar circuit wearing thin as is his relationship with Tracy, a well-off attorney (Annabeth Gish). He isn't the only one with problems. Tommy (Matt Dillon) occasionally sleeps with his now-married high school sweetheart Darian (Lauren Holly) while the earnest Sharon (Mira Sorvino) is left to wait. Paul (another thick-headed role for Michael Rapaport) refuses to commit to Jan (Martha Plimpton) until it's too late. Paul is enamoured with the idea of the supermodel (the title's "beautiful girls") that, he believes, can make life perfect. It's a very satisfying comedy, with some forced poignancy (Willie's description of Tracy as a "seven and a half" comes off as a death sentence). Rosie O'Donnell's dissertation on why Playboy
have ruined male expectations is much like Meg Ryan's orgasm scene in When Harry Met Sally
: it's hilarious, even memorable, but never wholly believable.
The two wild cards thrown into Beautiful Girls give the film its kick. Uma Thurman enters as the local barman's (Pruitt Taylor Vince) radiant cousin. From the big city, she can flirt with the awestruck guys and still keep her head. Willie's true emotional tug is from Marty, his precocious 13-year-old neighbour. If you didn't see Natalie Portman's sophisticated work in Leon, her performance here will come as a revelation. You deeply believe that Willie and Marty are connected despite their age difference. Their courtship will never come to be, but the way the two talk (and talk some more) about their lives is the most insightful part of Rosenberg's script. Everyone's so comfortable in his or her roles that you may truly feel sad when the film ends. --Doug Thomas, Amazon.com
Piano player Willie Conway (Timothy Hutton) is considering settling down with his lawyer girlfriend Tracy (Annabeth Gish). He returns to his Massachusetts hometown to make up his mind, and meets up with old friends Tommy (Matt Dillon) and Paul (Michael Rapaport). They, too, have relationships to mull over, but group soul-searching is put on hold when they all fall for the same beautiful woman (Uma Thurman).