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Secret Longings of the Heart:
Overcoming Deep Disappointment and Unfulfilled Expectations
(Wisdom for Women)
by Carol Kent
(Discounted Paperback from Amazon)
. "Broken English"

Her name is Nora Wilder (Parker Posey). As though being a 35-year old single woman weren't bad enough, she's got a guantlet of reminders to bring out her failures and inadequacies. There's having to dress up to go to her best friend Audrey Andrews' (Drea de Matteo) fifth anniversary shindig where Audrey's hubby (Tim Guinee) makes a speech about the difficulties of keeping a marriage together and how super-proud he is of his Audrey's succeess at it. Then there's mom (Gena Rowlands) to unleash what must be her standard lecture on the subject, telling her daughter why she should have married Mark instead of introducing Audrey to him.

For a brief moment we get away from the stereotypes of spinsterhood in that Nora isn't doing so badly at her job as a manager of guest relations at a Manhattan hotel catering to the famous. When she staightens out a dust-up with one such guest, Nick Gable (Justin Theroux), he puts the moves on her and she winds up -- vulnerable girl in need that she is -- sleeping with him.

Just as she's telling the family that she's got a new beau, and they go wild when they learn who it is, they turn to the TV just as he's being interviewed and starts talking about his real girlfriend. She's duly mortified.

Following that fiasco, we're treated to a series of equally horrifying interludes until we get convinced that it's not happening with this girl. Perhaps too convinced. Let the yawns commence. But, it gets worse.

What seems like a thankful relief from these woes is the presence of gal pal Audrey, a straight speaking sister of a gal who, despite her husbands public bragging to contrary, expresses her doubts about her marriage. But urges Nora to keep trying, if only for the practice. They go out together, drink together, hang out. The affection is there but for some reason writer-director Zoe Cassavetes has Audrey say "I love you" to Nora at least six times, when I lost count.

In a try for a last act resurrection, Nora meets Julien (Melvil Poupaud) a visiting film worker from France who spends a few days with her and leaves his address in lieu of Nora's readiness to go to France with him. But soon afterward, thinking that maybe the guys professed feelings for her might be real, she has to follow it up. She harnesses Audrey, who is all eager to split for awhile and play guard for her timid friend. So, just as the two women settle in at their Paris hotel, (having made deliveries that seem to have nothing to do with the movie), they are ready to go look for the guy. But the most obvious contrivance any amateur writer could dream up blows whatever potential might be left to pull our minds back to the issue at hand: the indecisively desperate lady. Nora announces that she has lost the address.

So Audrey returns home and most of us will wish we were on that plane with her. Nora remains in Paris and visits places where she's least likely to run into Julien, and...

Well, even the ending of a story that is the life blood of the Lifetime Channel shouldn't be spoiled. But as a warning to everyone not given to production line product about unfulfilled women, the contrivance factor is alive and well to the last frame. Word to the wise: avoid this at all costs.

Speaking of which, I caught this free for viewing on HDNet, which is its natural entry point, having been shot in HD. The photography by John Pirozzi is crisp though the lighting and scene tonalities are slightly uneven, a minor problem that is likely to be corrected in the transfer to film.

De Matteo is interesting to see in a major film role but Posey's style and gifts are inadequately utilized in such a creatively limited piece of work. You want to see her in something creative, see her in "Fay Grim." All the fuss over the first produced work by the daughter of John Casavetes, no matter how poor the product, just shows how Hollywood and New York take care of their icons.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner  

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