Lovely, Still



Toronto International Film Festival

TORONTO -- It's nice to see old pros like Martin Landau and Ellen Burstyn get most of the screen to themselves in "Lovely, Still," but their welcome, refined expertise unfortunately isn't enough to compensate for the evident inexperience of young writer-director Nik Fackler.

A heavy-handed romantic drama that bears all the feel-good hallmarks of a Hallmark production before taking a forced Hitchcockian turn late in the game that goes down as agreeably as a jagged candy cane, the erratic film left Toronto without a distributor following its world premiere screenings.

Landau's Robert Malone is a solitary gentleman with a longtime job as a bag boy (bag man?) at the local grocery store whose highly regulated existence is thrown for a loop with the arrival of Burstyn's Mary, a new neighbor who has let herself into his house, ostensibly out of concern over seeing his front door open.

Whatever her actual intentions, Robert ultimately becomes smitten, and the two strike up a cozy courtship until those darker impulses come to light.

Alas, pulling off that big reveal required a deft touch that Omaha-based music video director Fackler (he shot the film entirely in his hometown) was unable to pull off.

Instead the production is over-stuffed with cutesy split screens, jarring dream sequences and a pushy score by Bright Eyes band members Nathaniel Walcott and Mike Mogis that succeed in dragging the proceedings from merely cloying to increasingly annoying.

Production companies: Parts and Labor, North Sea Films
Cast: Martin Landau, Ellen Burstyn, Elizabeth Banks, Adam Scott
Director-screenwriter: Nik Fackler
Producers: Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen, Dana Altman
Director of photography: Sean Kirby
Production designer: Stephen Altman
Music: Mike Mogis, Nate Walcott
Editor: Douglas Crise
Sales Agent: William Morris Independent
Not yet rated ,90 minutes.

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