Written and directed by Nicole Holofcener.

Starring Catherine Keener, Anne Heche, Liev Schreiber, Kevin Corrigan.

This film is on the Best of 1996 list.

"Walking & Talking"

Opened: July 26, 1996 | Rated: R

"Walking and Talking" is about as girlie as a girl movie can get. It is all emotional exploration and intensive conversation. "Walking and Talking" is also about as charming, honest and casual as any movie can get. And it guy-friendly, to boot. A perfect date movie for the smart set.

It's a creative and truthful combination that wonderfully captures modern love and loneliness, and packages it in way that makes one envy the characters' friendship.

Directed by first-timer Nicole Holofcener, who also wrote the script, it's story about life-long best friends Laura and Amelia (Anne Heche and Catherine Keener) and how the dynamics of their relationship change when Laura gets engaged.

Amelia, a little neurotic to be sure, has just started to feel better about herself after a year of therapy working out why she sabotages her love affairs.

"It's hard with Laura being so grotesquely in love," she tells her shrink in an early scene, but she thinks she's ready to handle things without his advice.

Then Laura, her security blanket, announces the engagement. Then Amelia's old boyfriend starts coming around. Then a video store clerk (and avid "Fangora" reader) she's been dating out of desperation dumps her after finding out she's dubbed him "The Ugly Guy." Then her cat dies.

Laura isn't around like she'd been for every other crisis in Amelia's life, and when she goes back to her therapist, she finds he filled her time slot after she declared her independence.

What makes "Walking and Talking" such a joy is that it is endearing without being cute.

The dialogue is witty and thoughtful, yet common. The women's friendship is genuine and the engaged couple are a good match (the finance is played by Liev Schreiber), and both feel real enough to resemble episodes from anybody's life.

"Walking and Talking" has the same vicarious quality that makes "Friends" and MTV's "The Real World" so annoyingly addictive -- at times you want to be these people. But you come away being grateful for your own good friends instead.

This is a modest little movie that will come and go quickly from theaters, but it shouldn't be missed.

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