Picks and Pans Review: What Happened Was...

updated 09/12/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/12/1994 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Tom Noonan, Karen Sillas

A man and a woman sit across from each other in uneasy silence at the dinner table in her Manhattan apartment. This is their first meal together outside of the law firm where they both work—he's a paralegal, she's an executive assistant—and they have exhausted their supply of office chitchat. "I guess this is a lull, huh?" the man says uncomfortably. The woman gives a short laugh and sips more wine.

Who hasn't been there? What Happened Was..., an impressively knowing film about a first date between two lost people, is Marty for the '90s. Directed, written by and starring Noonan, this is a movie about the difficulties of connecting. Neither of the characters is particularly happy: He, a Harvard graduate and law school dropout, has given up on himself; she, a girl from suburban Long Island, spends her days feeling like an extra in someone else's movie.

What Happened is all talk, and not especially witty or even sophisticated talk. But it is true talk. As acted movingly by Noonan (Last Action Hero) and Sillas (Simple Men), these two are real people, and they're eggshell fragile, and watching them try to connect is both hopeful and terrifyingly sad. Try this movie, but not on a first date. (Not Rated)".

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