Film Scouts Reviews

"Unstrung Heroes"

by Eleanor Ringel

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Well, La Dee Dah. Annie Hall a.k.a. Diane Keaton, has gone and directed herself one hell of a movie. At heart, this is a family saga - a coming-of-age story about a Jewish family in the early '60s. 12-year-old Stephen Lidz (Nathan Watt) has a younger sister he likes to tease, a beautiful, loving mom (Andie MacDowell) he adores and a father....well, dad (John Turturro), a self-styled inventor, is more nutty professor than parent, but he means well. All is well with the Lidz clan until one day Mom is sent to the hospital and diagnosed with cancer. In order the escape the aching reality of her illness, Stephen flees to a the eccentric netherworld inhabited by his two crackpot uncles (Maury Chaikin and Michael Richards). If Chaykin, Richards and Turturro (who wonderfully underplays here) are the movie's splendid comic heart, MacDowell is its tender, humane soul; she gives a portrayal that refuses to turn saintly or saccharine. And when an entire cast is this good the director is doing something right. Keaton has made a movie whose delicate balance of humor and pathos calls to mind the marvelous "My Life as a Dog." This film is more than just special; it's a gift.

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