(Air Date: Week Of 02/12/97)
Unhook the Stars, directed and written by Nick Cassavetes, son of John Cassavetes and Gena Rowlands, is a good, if flawed, attempt to show the changes in the life of Mildred, a middle-aged woman played by Gene Rowlands. Her children are gone, she’s alone in her cookie cutter suburban home, and has nothing to do but take over the paper route she got for her rebellious daughter before she moved out.
Across the street is a working-class family, with angry young parents who drink and fight in the driveway, and a sad, young son, J.J. After the wife, Monica, manically played by Marisa Tomei of My Cousin Vinny, kicks her husband out, Mildred starts babysitting, and happily settles back into the familiar role of mother.
She becomes best friends with J.J., teaching him music and telling him stories, and she’s friend and advisor to Monica, who takes her out drinking one night. In the bar, where she stands out in her elegant suit, Mildred drinks a lot of drinks, and dances with Big Tommy, a trucker played by the ever charming Gerard Depardieu. When he takes her home in his big rig, she’s taken aback when he kisses her -- and she kisses back. It's not what she had in mind -- she was sure she'd passed this stage of life.
There’s good material here, but the development is slow, and, unfortunately, there’s too much sanctity in the character of patient, loving Mildred. Still, it's always a pleasure to see Gena Rowlands in action, and when it dawns on Mildred that she can take hold of a whole new kind of life, and even refuse the selfish demands of her children, it’s a moment worth waiting for.
Yep, and it’s also good to see that there's life for actresses beyond madcap heiress and sweater girl.
Copyright 1997 Mary Weems
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