Mr. Jealousy [1997]

It's not surprising that Mr. Jealousy didn't do well in theaters. The main character is obsessive and a liar, and by the end there's no guarantee that he's made any certain progress--which is part of what makes Mr. Jealousy such a sharp, insightful movie. The plot is entertaining to begin with: Lester (Eric Stoltz), a blocked writer, becomes obsessed with one of his girlfriend Ramona's former boyfriends, Dashiell (Chris Eigeman), who's recently published an enormously successful book and become a celebrity author. By chance, Lester discovers that Dashiell is taking group therapy; Lester joins the group and pretends to be his friend Vince (Carlos Jacott). When Vince learns about this, he insists that Lester tell him everything that goes on so that he can undergo therapy by proxy. The lies compound until Lester's relationship with Ramona (Annabella Sciorra) hangs by a thread. The writing is clever, yet never at the expense of the reality of the characters. Lester's jealousy is portrayed with almost excruciating details that make it both genuine and funny. The women in the film are not as developed as the men, but the performances are strong throughout. Fans of writer-director Noah Baumbach's first film, Kicking and Screaming, will not be disappointed. Maybe in the more intimate setting of video Mr. Jealousy will find the audience it deserves. --Bret Fetzer

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