Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"Willie C.! Take care, man. Stay cool. Stay cool forever."

Every few months I come across the movie Beautiful Girls on television and I always watch it. It came out in 1996 and I don't remember ever hearing about it, but since then, during my absurd number of viewings, it has become one of my favorite comfort films. One of those movies I can watch over and over and I always enjoy it.

I will confess right now that a big reason for this is that the film takes place in a small New England town in winter and it is spot on. I love that everything takes place against a backdrop of near constant flurries and cold and the even the piles of old dirty snow that line the streets in certain shots make it feel like home to me.

The movie is about a group of high school buddies reconnecting for a reunion. It is a homecoming for one particular character, Willie, who now lives in New York City and makes his living as a jazz pianist in a bar. He returns home to Knight's Ridge where the rest of this group of close friends live and work...begrudgingly facing adulthood. He, too, battles with relationship and career decisions and the broader struggle of simply growing up.

Timothy Hutton is fantastic as Willie, but this film is really the definition of an ensemble. Matt Dillon, Michael Rappaport, Uma Thurman, and a young Natalie Portman round out a cast of endearingly flawed, funny, and real characters.

There are painful portraits of regret tempered with just the right amount of humor. It is like visiting with that group of good time guys from high school and seeing how it all played out- good and bad. It is nostalgic, immediate, and emotional- all that and worth the watch....every time.

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