Monday, May 14, 2007


This week's love story:

This movie is not a GREAT film. It is not totally original. It is not a realistic portrayal of the human condition. It won’t win any Oscars (although it did win an Emmy!). It won’t gross $200 million at the box office (it didn’t even play in theaters). It doesn’t feature stunning special effects, or art direction or original score. It’s not last year’s Memento.

“So, Frank, why are you recommending it?”

Not all movies need to be earth-shattering, or poignant. They don’t all have to be outstanding in some respect. They don’t even have to play in theaters. Some pretty decent movies are just really really …….nice. You know what I mean? I’m going to start featuring more films that are just fun to watch. They don’t all need to teach you or to inspire you, or to make you laugh all through. They can just be enjoyable and make you feel kinda warm and gushy inside. THE GIRL IN THE CAFÉ is such a film.

You may not know him by site, but character actor Bill Nighy is the British answer to Christopher Walken. Why is that, you ask? He's everywhere these days, and he's great no matter what he's in. He has an ability to elevate any scene he’s in. He can redeem a lesser movie just by appearing in it, and he usually plays supporting roles (the aging rocker, Billy Mack, in Love Actually to Davy Jones in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest). This week's movie doesn't need redeeming by a long shot, and it's nice to see Nighy finally play a leading role.

I’ll tell you now. The stuff that happens in this movie would never never never happen in real life. Not in a million years. ……………..but you would want it to. The two people who come together in this story could not be more mismatched – nor could they possibly need each other more than they do. Their relationship is quite improbable, yet it’s also quite inevitable.

Nighy plays Lawrence, a diplomat working in the British Foreign Trade Office. He is reserved. Okay, he’s very very reserved. He’s a middle aged man who has devoted his whole life to his job because he doesn’t have social skill 1. When he meets Gina in a café one day and shares her table, it’s only because the café was crowded and he had no place to sit down to drink his tea. He’s intelligent and thoughtful, but he doesn’t know any social graces. “Don't think because I'm not saying much that I wouldn't like to say a lot.”, he tells her.

Gina is young, not nearly as shy as Lawrence, and is much more world weary than him. They are drawn to one another, but when he invites her to join him at the G8 conference in Reykjavik, will the difference in their political views get in the way? The ending of the movie, although you can visualize a big red arrow pointing to the image on your TV that says, “THIS NEVER HAPPENS!”, is nevertheless beautiful and heartwarming.

THE GIRL IN THE CAFÉ won the Emmy Award for outstanding made for TV movie, as well as one for Kelly MacDonald as Gina. MacDonald and Nighy both received Golden Globe nominations for their roles. The writer, Richard Curtis, has a long list of successful, well received romantic comedy screenplays, including: Love Actually, Bridget Jones's Diary, Notting Hill, and Four Weddings and a Funeral. THE GIRL IN THE CAFÉ is not the least of these.

So, let’s wrap up. Here are ten reasons why I think you’ll like THE GIRL IN THE CAFÉ.

  1. Bill Nighy is in it. That, in itself, should be enough reason – but here’s nine more.
  2. It’s a feel-good movie which promotes positive social values …….if you like that sort of thing.
  3. There’s hope for all of us middle-aged guys.
  4. If you liked Lost in Translation, you’ll like this one.
  5. If you didn’t like “Lost in Translation”, but you didn’t like it because of Bill Murray’s performance because it wasn’t as outwardly funny as his Ghost Busters role or his Caddyshack role or his Stripes role or his What About Bob? role, or because you just don’t like Bill Murray, you might still like this film – because Bill Murray isn’t in it.
  6. If you don’t like it, I’ll owe you.
  7. It you don’t like this, I could recommend a nice obtuse example of experimental German expressionism with nihilistic themes shot in black and white with an avant-garde soundtrack and a five hour running length. I’ll bet THE GIRL IN THE CAFÉ is looking pretty good right about now.
  8. Since it was made for TV, watching the video on your TV would allow you to view it in its intended format. How about that?
  9. If I can get fifty people to rent it, NetFlix will give me a $10 rebate on next month’s bill. What? How does that help you? Did I mention Bill Nighy was in it?
  10. If you have digital cable, it may already be available “On Demand” for free. This doesn’t help me to get a NetFlix rebate but what’re gonna do?

And enjoy.


At 3:56 AM, Anonymous Ingrid said...

Couldn't agree more.


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