Picks and Pans Review: Chantilly Lace
This movie, which is about a series of reunions involving seven women friends at a summer home, has an interesting genesis: Director-producer Linda Yellen created basic plot points and characters, then handed the skeleton script over to a terrific cast of actresses—Lindsay Crouse, Jill Eikenberry, Martha Plimpton, Ally Sheedy, Talia Shire, Helen Slater, JoBeth Williams—and let them slowly flesh it out with improvisation. They were encouraged, as the press material put it, to "infuse their characters with their own hopes, fears and frustrations."
The result suggests that the actresses were allowed more psycho-rope than they needed. Chantilly Lace plays like Same Time, Next Year staged in group therapy. You get scene after scene of confronting, confessing, sobbing, laughing through drying tears and, finally, bonding. It's hard not to be touched by the sight of these women crying cathartic oceans of tears. Crouse, in particular, is a mighty, gusty, impassioned weeper. She should be kept on call for occasions of national mourning. But therapy isn't drama. I hope the actresses felt better about themselves when the cameras stopped rolling. (If you want to see improvisational drama done right, rent Life Is Sweet, High Hopes or Nuts in May, comedy-dramas directed by Britain's Mike Leigh.)