Day in Savannah

Sam Levinson‘s Another Happy Day, which has been on the film festival circuit since bowing last January at Sundance and which will open on 11.18, played last night at the Savannah Film Festival. It’s definitely not The Family Stone, as Levinson exclaimed during the q & a. And it has “Red Twitter Queen” Ellen Barkin delivering the most searing, over-the-waterfall performance of her life as one of the most sensitive and well-intentioned crazy-torpedo moms of all time.

Barkin and Levinson talked a bit after the film ended, and I was there in the second row.

Day is a black family comedy without much serenity or calm or closure to pass around. It has teeth and rage and drug abuse and all the rest of that good stuff that has fueled miserable family dramas going back to Eugene O’Neil‘s Long Day’s Journey Into Night and James Goldman‘s The Lion in Winter…but with cryptic laughs. Everyone is hurting, seething, crippled, screaming, cutting themselves, depressed, despairing…you name it.

As Katherine Hepburn‘s Eleanor of Acquitaine says in Winter, “What family doesn’t have its ups and downs?”

The laughs aren’t my idea of constant, but when they hit the mark they really hit the mark.

It’s about the mother of all dysfunctional family wedding parties (in the Saddam Hussein sense of the term), and particularly about Lynn (Barkin), a mom with an aching heart and a quivering lower lip with a pathological need to constantly express anguish and relive painful moments in her life, and if at all possible to goad others into dredging up their own bad business.

She sees herself as a battered victim and a hard-bitten survivor, and she has taken her lumps, for sure. But she’s made a fetish out of suffering, and she can’t seem to let it go.

Lynn isn’t exactly Mary Tyrone from Long Day’s Journey or Hepburn’s Eleanor, but she’s certainly a woman of similar frustrations and compulsions and long-simmering resentments.

I have to stop filing because I have a 5 pm plane to catch, but Barkin’s costars are quite the handful — Kate Bosworth, Ellen Burstyn, Thomas Haden Church, George Kennedy, Ezra Miller, Demi Moore, Michael Nardelli.

I’m supposed to speak to Barkin and Levinson sometime later this week so I’ll pick it up then.

3 thoughts on “Day in Savannah

  1. LexG on said:

    Levinson (who was excellent in “Stoic”) looks more like Tom Cruise than his actual dad (though, yeah, I guess you can see Barry in him, too.)

  2. That kid Ezra Miller is in it so by default I can’t see this movie. I don’t know what it is but everytime I see him I just want to punch him in his mouth. He nearly ruined what was a fantastic movie “City Island” for me just by his presence alone, he was in something else that I saw and I had the same reaction. There are just certain actors that rub me the wrong way. I can’t watch a Hillary Swank movie anymore although I thought she was great in Million Dollar Baby, but subsequent that she just irritates me with her canned earnestness. Julia Roberts — forget it, won’t touch it, won’t go near it. Harrison Ford; Kate Hudson; Will Smith; Robert Pattinson(whom I have to admit I thought was genuinely good in the first Twilight movie, but everything after that has been utter shit — I’ll give him one last shot with the new Cronenberg flick).

  3. This is a staggeringly brilliant movie. Broke my heart in all sorts of ways, and it touches on a lot of the ugliest moments any has had with family. It’s hard to not be pinned to your seat as this thing unspools, such a depiction of acid wit and vitriol between fractured, fucked-up people.

    And can we just start calling her LADY BARKIN? It’s such a good cast (and I thought George Kennedy was DEAD!) but she just OWNS this fucking movie. LADY BARKIN 4EVER. Easily the best female performance I have seen this year, though I haven’t seen Glenn Close in DUDE LOOKS LIKE A LADY or Meryl Streep in MADAME BRITAIN.

    But, yeah, that Ezra kid has really cornered the market on total shitheads. I thought he was great in this, but he’s certainly built up a CV of repulsive little assholes. There’s no moment in this you don’t want to immolate him.

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