Stars: Holly Hunter, Danny DeVito, Queen Latifah, Martin Donovan, Richard Schiff
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 100 minutes
The original title of Living Out Loud was The Kiss, which also happens to be the title of one of the two Anton Chekhov stories the movie is loosely based on. (For those Russian lit mavens out there, the other story is "Misery.") The actual kiss in Living Out Loud is a somewhat mysterious affair: newly single Judith (Holly Hunter) suddenly finds herself laying a wet 'n' sloppy one on a total stranger (Elias Koteas, Hunter's Crash costar) in the back room of a cool jazz club, and then parting ways with the man. For good. Like so much of this exceptionally smart, generous movie, no explanation is given--or necessary. Screenwriter Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King), making his directing debut, charts Judith's struggles in the wake of being dumped by her doctor husband (Martin Donovan). It turns out life has its ups and downs, some of which come courtesy of the elevator operator (Danny DeVito) in her swanky Upper East Side apartment building. DeVito's character is a nice guy in need of a little human touch, and the actor soft-pedals his usual sleaze in favor of a warm, directly emotional approach. It's the kind of turn that garners Oscar nominations, except that this movie didn't attract the box office it deserved. His performance, like the film, keeps surprising you--a fantasy sequence here, an ensemble dance there, plus a couple of smoky jazz tunes contributed by Queen Latifah. This unpredictable movie has the kiss of class. --Robert Horton
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