Friday, July 23, 2010

Revisiting "The Opposite of Sex"

It's been twelve years since the debut of Don Roos' The Opposite of Sex, perhaps the most scathing cinematic document of Ms. Christina Ricci.  For in 1998, Ricci was the undisputed indie queen, thanks primarily to her manipulative, bratty interpretation of Dede Truit.  It's still arguably her best role (in my mind, it's between this and Addams Family Values-- I do love me some of her Wednesday Addams.)  Ricci was also had The Ice Storm, Buffalo 66 and Pecker hit cinemas in a years time.  Thankfully the movie still holds up in that charmingly self aware verve that made it a minor success in 1998.  I simultaneously felt nostalgic and also a longing for Ricci to come back in a major role again soon.  Surely some smart filmmaker can come back to capitalize on her abundant gifts for screen bitchery.  Her Dede is a straight talker claiming on the very first bit of narration:

"I don't have a heart of gold, and I don't get one later"

 It's a perfect setup to a tale of scandal.  For those who haven't seen this joyously fun movie the gist is:  Dede is a trashy gal from Louisiana visits half brother Bill (Martin Donovan), steals his dim boyfriend Matt (Ivan Sergei), gets pregnant, and schemes, steals, and blackmails her way to support the mess she's gotten into.  Also in the mix are Bill's needy friend Lucia (Lisa Kudrow) and super-cop Carl (Lyle Lovett.)  For such a cynical movie however, it's an incredibly generous comedy, with ample opportunities for its talented cast to shine.  Aside from Ricci, Lisa Kudrow is delightful as the endlessly bitter Lucia.  One choice exchange:

Dede:  How does a woman get so bitter?
Lucia:  Observation.

The film surprisingly did pretty well come awards season.  Ricci received a Golden Globe nomination for actress in a comedy, Kudrow (right in the height of Friends popularity in a decidedly anti-Phoebe Buffay role) won best supporting actress from the NY Film Critics, and Roos received a WGA nomination for original screenplay.  Yet in a perfect world Ricci would have earned a Best Actress Oscar nomination and Roos a Screenplay nod-- not surprising that he didn't; the movie is quite vulgar and gay, and not the tragically historic sense that the Academy condones.  Roos returned a couple of years later with the similar poly-sexual dynamics with the ensemble comedy Happy Endings (featuring a killer performance from Maggie Gyllenhaal and another ace one from Kudrow), and a follow-up, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, featuring Natalie Portman and Kudrow again coming out hopefully very soon.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...