Mr. Jealousy (1997) / Comedy-Romance
MPAA Rated: R for language and sexual themes
Running Time: 103 min.
Cast: Eric Stoltz, Annabella Sciorra, Carlos Jacott, Chris Eigeman, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Brian Kerwin, John Lehr, Peter Bogdanovich
Director: Noah Baumbach
Screenplay: Noah Baumbach
Review published October 16, 2004
Eric Stoltz (Anaconda, 2 Days in the Valley) plays Lester Grimm, a substitute teacher in Brooklyn who has been plagued in his love life with a series of relationships that make him increasingly question the fidelity of his partners. His latest prospect is Ramona (Annabella Sciorra, What Dreams May Come), a museum tour guide and graduate student that he befriends, and things go pretty fast on the track to becoming an item. Soon, Lester begins to be suspect of her extracurricular activities, as she can’t stop talking about former boyfriends, one of whom, Dashiell (Chris Eigeman, Crazy Little Thing) has written a collection of stories about previous relationships, and one of them seems suspiciously like Ramona. In order to find out for sure, Lester joins a support group that Dashiell is a member of, but uses the name and situation of his best friend, Vince (Carlos Jacott, Bats).
Writer-director Noah Baumbach follows up his cult sleeper, Kicking and Screaming, with a little more broadness in delivery in Mr. Jealousy, with satisfying results. Perhaps the only thing I dislike about the film is the title, as it is generic and not really in keeping with the insightful nature of the script itself. There is also a narrator of the film, the best friend, and it takes some getting used to this outsider’s look into the relationship. Still, the actors are fun to observe interact with one another, with personal hang-ups that are believable, rather than laden with the heavy eccentricities that other romantic comedies tend to be plagued with.
If I had to choose a word to describe Mr. Jealousy, it would be “witty”. It isn’t a laugh-a-minute riot, but there are moments that surprise, and some that make you think, and the intelligence of it, even when things become farcical, is refreshing. Other critics have compared the film’s style to Woody Allen and the French New Wave directors (Truffaut in particular, with many scenes clearly homage), so if you like those sorts of films, you should probably feel comfortable with the familiar ground Baumbach covers.
©2004 Vince Leo