Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Women Under Dunne: "Almost You" (1985)

Almost YouAlex (Griffin Dunne) and Erica (Brooke Adams) are a young married couple having problems. The problems are put on hold after Erica is hit by a cab, and dislocates her hip. She spends a few weeks in the hospital, then comes home and surprises Alex. The two cannot have sex because of the injury.

Enter Lisa (Karen Young), the cute nurse who is going to help Erica with her physical therapy. Lisa and Erica do not get along well, but Lisa and Alex get along too well. Lisa's better half, actor Kevin (Marty Watt), spies Lisa and Alex together and finds a way to get into Alex's confidence.

Alex works at a textiles factory run by his uncles (Joe Silver, Joe Leon). Kevin comes in pretending to interview for Alex's position since Alex is being booted upstairs. Kevin gets invited to a dinner party, with David (Josh Mostel) and Maggie (Christine Estabrook). Lisa sticks around, and Kevin brings a date, Jeannie (Laura Dean).

The dinner party serves as the main centerpiece in the film, as Kevin and Lisa do not clue anyone in on their relationship. David and Maggie are engaged, and the announcement shifts everyone's perspective to their own suffering love lives. After the party, Erica passes out drunk and Alex and Lisa have sex. Then the real complications ensue.

Adam Brooks directed a screenplay he did the story for. It sometimes seems like a filmed stage play, but Brooks opens it up before boredom sets in. The locations are all very realistic, especially Kevin and Lisa's rundown apartment. His characters are real, too. Alex works in a textiles factory. Erica is a freelance illustrator. Kevin is a less than successful actor (appearing in the small play "Yo Keats"), and Lisa a nurse. There are no spoiled rich New Yawkers with Woody Allen penned problems, these people seem all too real.

The cast is great across the board. Griffin Dunne's Alex is no hero, cheating on his wife twice. Brooke Adams' perpetually downward turned mouth is sexy, but she is not a supermodel. Her bitterness at everyone's blase attitude toward a potentially fatal accident is supreme. Karen Young is good as Lisa, her attraction to Alex never seems forced. You would be attracted to Alex, too, if you put up with Marty Watt's Kevin. Kevin is jealous, sarcastic, bitter, but too eager to be an actor instead of dealing with real life.

Once in a while, the jokes and dialogue clunk instead of working, but the film moves along quickly. The Key Video box cover hints of a threesome, but that never happens in the film.

"Almost You" is better than a lot of the dreck out there masquerading as "romantic comedy." This film has an edge, and that carries the film. I recommend it. (* * * *) out of five stars.