Best and worst thing you’ll see all week: Some Velvet Morning

, | Movie reviews

Have you ever been at a dinner when another couple hosting gets into a protracted argument? There’s nothing quite so tedious as being a bystander when someone else’s baggage is strewn around the room. That’s what it’s like watching Some Velvet Morning, in which Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve are a couple with an indeterminate history, getting into an argument, and drawing it out for 80 minutes. As the baggage unpacks, they’re both so overbearing, so typical, so flailing away at the thrust and counterthrust, poking, stabbing, deflecting weak verbal daggers, parrying, sniping. At least they’re such capable actors. Tucci is too often stereotyped as effete or a villain or an effete villain, so it’s always a bit of a thrill to see him throw his weight around. Eve is stunning to the point of being distracting — what was she saying just now? — but she plants both feet firmly and holds her own as the tedium unfolds. Get ready for the sort of actorly naturalistic bickering you might see in a 99-seat black box theatre that didn’t want to pay the roytalties for a production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf.

And because this is a Neil LaBute script — it’s barely a movie for the way it never leaves Eve’s apartment — you don’t get to draw conclusions until you realize where he’s taking you. Which is pretty offensive. But he’s not done taking you someplace. As Neil LaBute demonstrates when he’s at his best, brutality can be playful. Is he trolling? Or is this tedium a set-up for a punchline? Or an observation about your own assumptions? Who’s Afraid of Neil LaBute?

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