Director: Christine Lahti
In this original film, troubled goth teenager Leelee Sobieski finds herself strangely attracted to a Mr. Rogers-like Albert Brooks after she takes a job in his fine clothing store, causing the two eccentric souls to become friends. Sobieski and Brooks are an odd match indeed and their unusual relationship is depicted wonderfully via razor sharp wit and charm thanks to an ingenious script, fine performances and assured direction by Christine Lahti that never once lets it veer into predictability or hit a false note. The film’s cynical tongue-in-cheek way it introduces us to Sobieski’s colorful Jennifer gets viewers hooked immediately and while the film is decidedly coming-of-age and inspired by Harold and Maude, Lahti’s movie changes tempo much like a teenage girl, going from shocking laughs to understanding, pathos, heart-warming scenes and true turns of events. A fine film— the clever screenplay will fill writers with dialogue-envy and keep them hitting the rewind button as they watch. Kudos to Brooks for tackling an unglamorous role— he is not an American Beauty-esque Nabakov character— his Randall Harris is complicated, confused, real and authentic. Brooks takes chances that not too many actors would take and the film benefits from his bravery— it’s refreshing that unlike some other writer/directors, he will take challenging parts in other films along with maintaining an awe-inspiring filmography consisting of his own creations.