"She's The One"
Opens: Aug. 23, 1996 | Rated: R
Edward Burns was last year's Sundance Film Festival discovery. The 28-year-old wrote, directed and starred in "The Brothers McMullen," which cost only $25,000 and grossed $10 million on word of mouth alone.
His second film, the $3.5 million "She's The One," which opened yesterday, is another sarcastic romantic comedy. Much like "McMullen," it's about Irish-American brothers living in New York and having tough time with the women in their lives.
For the first 30 minutes the resemblance is a little hard to bear, especially since brothers Mickey and Francis Fitzgerald (Burns and Mike McGlone, in virtually the same roles they played in "McMullen") are shallow, petty, selfish people you wouldn't want to share a cab ride with.
But then Cameron Diaz ("The Mask") turns up as Heather, Mickey's ex-fiancee who is now sleeping with married Francis, and proceeds to steal the movie.
A man-eating heartbreaker and ex-hooker, she is gorgeous, crafty and magnetic. She ruthlessly steps on men's hearts and they come back for more. It is a star-making performance, reminiscent of Rita Hayworth in "Gilda," that awakens the audience and jump starts the picture.
With Heather's arrival, "She's The One" suddenly becomes two absorbing love triangles in which the three women -- Francis' wife Rene (Jennifer Aniston from TV's "Friends"), Mickey's girlfriend Hope (Burns' real-life love Maxine Bahns) and Heather -- are much more interesting than the two brothers.
Aniston shows some potential playing randy and frustrated Rene, whose husband has lost interest in sex with her (he doesn't want to cheat on Heather with his wife).
Hope is secretive -- marrying Mickey without telling him she plans on moving to Paris. Despite Bahns' very meager acting ability, Burns wrote her character with enough mystery to make her a somewhat interesting enigma nonetheless.
As for the brothers, both are sour souls that subconsciously torpedo their relationships and it's difficult to empathize with their misunderstandings, mistrust and malice.
But what might be a fatal flaw in a more shallow script, here unintentionally serves to thrust the women into the foreground. "She's The One" becomes the story of secondary characters, but the film still works because of Burns' unique storytelling.
In several places he will show a conversation -- say, a fight between Francis and Rene -- inter-cut with a later scene of Francis recounting the argument to Mickey. It is a inventive technique -- filmed with the camera always moving left to right like someone walking by -- that breathes a credible flavor of family communication into the film.
"She's The One" is also aided by Burns' habit of using of real interiors instead of sets, which lends a voyeuristic quality to the action.
John Mahoney (the father on "Fraiser"), who plays the gruff beer-and-fishing-philosophy patriarch, acts as a sounding board for the brothers. He offers advise, but always with a little abuse (he calls his sons "Dorothy" and encourages them to settle disputes in boxing gloves).
"She's The One" is an admirable sophomore effort, due in no small part to the brilliant performance by Diaz. It show Burns has significant potential as a writer and director. Next time out, perhaps all his characters will be as interesting as Heather.
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