Film-Forward Review: [ANYTHING BUT LOVE]

Reviews of Recent Independent, Foreign, & Documentary Films in Theaters and DVD/Home Video

Isabel Rose & Cameron Bancroft cut the rug

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Directed by: Robert Cary.
Produced by: Aimee Schoof & Isen Robbins.
Written by: Robert Cary & Isabel Rose.
Director of Photography: Horacio Marquinez.
Edited by: Robert Reitano.
Music by: Andrew Hollander & Steven Lutvak.
Released by: Samuel Goldwyn.
Country of Origin: USA. 99 min. Rated: PG-13.
With: Isabel Rose, Cameron Bancroft, Eartha Kitt & Andrew McCarthy.

In this nostalgic valentine to New York romance, Billie Golden (newcomer Isabel Rose, who looks like a redheaded Nancy Travis) not only has her head in the clouds, but belongs in another era. Dressed in second-hand clothes, à la Audrey Hepburn's Holly Golightly, she swoons to old movie musicals, and sings only pre-1960 material in her cabaret act at the JFK Skylark Lounge. Her anthem is "I Can't Give You Anything but Love." At 32, she stills lives with her boozing and pill-popping mom in Queens and waits tables. After a disastrous audition, thanks to the erratic tempo of the accompanist, she renounces show business. A chance encounter with her high school crush, Greg Ellenbogen (Bancroft), a square-jawed but stiff lawyer on the rise, leads to a whirlwind courtship. He wants her to give up pursuing a career and settle down with him in paradise - Connecticut. But it becomes too obvious what decision she should make. Serving tea to grand dame Eartha Kitt (played by her charismatic self), Billie receives a timely pearl of wisdom.

It is not accidental if this confection reminds you of the '80s sitcom of the same name. The pace and banter are also in the mode of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, replete with reaction shots and a few scenes ending abruptly. Fortunately, the ending is refreshingly clear-headed and not easily resolved. Although there are many stock characters - the saucy best friend, two Stepford wives - the acting, especially by Rose, is for the most part understated. The lush score by Andrew Hollander and Steven Lutvak compliments the standards sung by Rose, whose light soprano at time sounds pleasantly like Madonna. Without the bawdiness and irony of the Doris Day tribute Down With Love, Anything but Love will also bring to mind the comedies of Judy Holliday. Kent Turner
November 14, 2003



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