FROM TWO AMERICAN MASTERS COMES A MOVIE LIKE NO OTHER.
Robert Altman followed up his excellent Hollywood saga The Player (1992) with a three-hour long ensemble film inspired by the writings of Raymond Carver. The film is set in the present and introduces 22 characters living in Los Angeles. As expected, Altman guides us smoothly through the stories and these people whose destinies are intertwined through infidelities, the city itself and death; God’s hand is evident in the shape of a climactic earthquake. Some vignettes stand out more than others, but it’s a splendid cast and part of the attraction lies in just observing these people’s lives; we judge them, we are amused by them.
1993-U.S. 189 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Cary Brokaw. Directed by Robert Altman. Screenplay: Robert Altman, Frank Barhydt. Short Stories: Raymond Carver. Cast: Andie MacDowell (Ann Finnigan), Bruce Davison (Howard Finnigan), Jack Lemmon (Paul Finnigan), Julianne Moore, Matthew Modine, Anne Archer… Fred Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Penn, Lili Taylor, Robert Downey, Jr., Madeleine Stowe, Tim Robbins, Lily Tomlin, Tom Waits, Peter Gallagher, Frances McDormand, Lyle Lovett, Buck Henry, Huey Lewis.
Trivia: One of the film’s stories was later used in Jindabyne (2006). Laura Dern was reportedly considered for a role. The film received a special Golden Globe for its ensemble cast.
Venice: Golden Lion.
Last word: “This was not a rendition of Raymond Carver’s work. This was inspired by Raymond Carver, this was of him. The stories that we took were not specific Raymond Carver stories, they were instances in his stories. They were attitudes that Raymond Carver didn’t write about but I felt he would have. There is no purity there. A lot of critics and Raymond Carver fans felt that way, they did not like that film at all because they thought that it wasn’t what Raymond did at all. And they were right.” (Altman, BFI)