Flannel Pajamas

Flannel Pajamas. This one should have worked. It's a good movie. It doesn't hedge its bets, it doesn't insult anybody's intelligence, and it doesn't lie. It's well-written, skillfully acted, and lovingly directed. All the same, Flannel Pajamas made me want to crawl inside my own navel and die. And that's never cool. Here's the premise: You've got two New Yorkers who might be in their early 30s. They meet on a blind date, fall in love, and get married, and within two years, their relationship is a wasteland of half-articulated resentment and unfulfilled desire. One of them, Nicole, is played by Julianne Nicholson with a soft, wilting innocence that could elicit tenderness from a rock. The other is a jangling ball of bent nerves named Stuart, played by the erstwhile star of Angels in America, Justin Kirk. Stuart commands a lot more screen time than Nicole, and that's a shame — not because he's uninteresting but because he's insufferable. The terrible thing — the thing that can ruin your day and make you wish writer/director Jeff Lipsky had been snatched from the cradle by rabid wolves — is that you can't really blame the guy. He genuinely doesn't know how fucked up he is. And his cheap posturing and barely concealed insecurities are so ordinary that in the end, they not only make the dissolution of his marriage inevitable but they make communication and happiness seem unattainable for anyone. That's my take, anyway. Pajamas is really a Rorschach-test sort of film. One reviewer felt that Pajamas made poor, gullible Nicole out to be the monster, and that's mightily interesting. Ambiguity's a hard thing to find at your local multiplex, and Flannel Pajamas contains almost nothing but. Kind of like real life. (Saturday, October 21, at Cinema Paradiso; 124 minutes.)

For a full schedule of screenings and events, visit www.fliff.com.

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