Picks and Pans Review: Career Girls

updated 08/18/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/18/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Katrin Cartlidge, Lynda Steadman

The premise is simplicity itself. Having graduated from college six years earlier, Steadman, who works in corporate personnel outside London, comes into the city to spend a reunion weekend with her former roommate (Cartlidge), who likewise has taken up an office job. The movie flashes back and forth from their initially constrained get-together, during which each woman seems preoccupied by some personal unhappiness, to their school days, when they were almost aggressively miserable (Cartlidge spews a torrent of sarcastic puns and insults, while Steadman twitches with anxiety). Acted to perfection, Career Girls is smaller (and, thankfully, less lugubrious) than director-writer Mike Leigh's last film, the mother-daughter weeper Secrets & Lies. This funny, touching movie has but one purpose: to let us draw close enough to these women that we can hear their hearts beat. And break. (R)

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