Actor Tony Shalhoub's directing debut is loosely adapted from his sister-in-law Lynne Adams' play Two Faced, a one-woman show she opened up for the screen by staging it as a video mockumentary. Middle-aged former actress Elizabeth (Shalhoub's wife and Lynne's sister, Brooke Adams) has been abandoned by her husband, Duncan (Gary Sinise), for the much younger Molly (Light Eternal). Despite Elizabeth's best efforts to instill positive feminist values in their teenage daughter, Sara (Eva Amurri) is anorexic and obsessed with her appearance. To Elizabeth's horror, she's also announced that she'd rather go to beauty school than college. In hopes of convincing Elizabeth of her cosmological talents, Sara makes a deal with her mother: She'll go to a therapist about her eating disorder if Elizabeth consents to a makeover followed by dinner with Duncan, whom Sara hopes will be sufficiently impressed that he'll pay for cosmetology school. Elizabeth reluctantly agrees, and also gives her older sister, film student Kate (Lynne Adams), the greenlight to videotape the transformation. Although she'd never admit it to Sara, Elizabeth is secretly thrilled with her new look: Sara hides all the sagging and bagging with rubber-bands and tape, and covers Elizabeth's graying hair with a stylish auburn wig. She not only dazzles Duncan but also Max (Shalhoub), the owner of the restaurant where she and Duncan meet. Max, who fancies himself an actor and loves the idea of appearing on camera, asks Elizabeth out on a date, but when she watches the rushes shot by Kate's small crew who've been filming all the behind-the-scenes goings-on, creating a dizzying film-within-a-film effect Elizabeth's confidence falters. She's depressed by how much she's aged and, despite her convictions, is forced to admit to herself that she prefers her made-over self. That private moment is about to become very public when Molly puts Kate in touch with Search Features, a production company that expresses interest in what they've seen of Kate's film. They're even willing to pony up some production money for a feature if Kate will make two fixes: Focus her subject and do something about Elizabeth she's a total bore. Focus is also a bit of problem with Shalhoub's film, which takes on everything from aging and the beauty myth to the dynamics of divorce while working in several layers of film reality. But it's never dull: Shalhoub's direction is smart, the dialogue is tart and the Adams' family shares a palpable intimacy that translates directly onto the screen.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: Actor Tony Shalhoub's directing debut is loosely adapted from his sister-in-law Lynne Adams' play Two Faced, a one-woman show she opened up for the screen by staging it as a video mockumentary. Middle-aged former actress Elizabeth (Shalhoub's wife and Lynn… (more)