Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Truth About Cats & Dogs

The Truth About Cats & Dogs; Romantic comedy, USA, 1996; D: Michael Lehmann, S: Janeane Garofalo, Uma Thurman, Ben Chaplin, Jamie Foxx

Abby Barnes knows everything about pets, but almost nothing about love. She works as a veterinarian in a radio show, where she also gives an advice to caller Brian, a photographer who wants to calm a dog. Grateful, he wants to ask her out, but since Abby thinks she is ugly, she persuades the blond beauty Noelle, her neighbor, to take her place. Brian, thinking Noelle is actually Abby, falls in love with her, while the real Abby just tags along with them, feeling depressed and jealous. The charade lasts until Abby gets a grip of herself and tells him the truth. He is angry, but after a while he returns and they fall in love.

Gentle-mild romantic comedy of misunderstanding was directed by Michael Lehmann, but with surprisingly "normal" energy and sympathetic mood. Admittedly, "Cats" is somehow without highlights and relies too much on its actors, but they are indeed excellent and sparkle with chemistry: Ben Chaplin should have had more such grateful roles whereas Uma Thurman is incredibly charming. The biggest virtue is, however, the performance by Janeane Garofalo - rarely did she ever receive such a rich role where she could show so much of her talent and comic charisma. In so many films, she is just pushed in the background as an "strange" supporting character, but here the tables are turned and she plays the main heroine, whereas the story takes its time to explore many of her neglected facets, nuances and shrill movements that go hand in hand. The story is banal and Garofalo's character is somewhat too gibber, but the way she plays her gave the film at least three great scenes - when she walks with Brian on the beach, when he takes photos of her and when in the end she lands in his arms. A very honest film.


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