Harriet Lauler is a classic dragon-lady. Once a successful advertising agency executive, she now lives alone, having alienated everyone in her life. After a close brush with death from taking too many sleeping pills, she decides to hire a young journalist to write her obituary. Anne Sherman reluctantly accepts the assignment and sets out to interview the people closest to her. She quickly discovers they have nothing but contempt for Harriet. As the two women spend time together, each learns new things about the other and themselves. Things come to a head when Harriet decides to visit her daughter whom she hasn’t seen in decades. They take a road trip and meet with unexpected results.
2017, Color, Rated R, 1 Hr 48 mins
DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, 2.40:1 Aspect Ratio
Starring: Shirley MacLaine, Amanda Seyfried, AnnJewel Lee Dixon
Directed by Mark Pellington
This is a classic “journey of self-discovery” story, and if it were simply a derivative of the dozens of other similar films that have come before it, I would likely recommend it as a sleep aid. My expectations were low, but happily, the script and the three principal actors took this concept to a high level. Shirley McLain is rarely anything but excellent, and she certainly commands the stage here. Her performance as Harriet reminded me greatly of the Martha Levinson character she played on Downton Abbey, saying what she thinks without any filters and making most people cringe in her presence while still making the scene funny. Amanda Seyfried also does a superb job as Anne, providing a perfect foil for Harriet’s one-liners. The show-stealer award however, goes to AnnJewel Lee Dixon as Bridget. It’s amazing to see the talent of child actors today. She swears like a sailor and pulls off a masterfully comedic performance worthy of a seasoned pro.
The film is billed as a comedy, and there are many chuckle-worthy moments. But it is far from a side-splitter. Some aspects of Harriet’s life are truly tragic and you’ll feel sad and angry all at the same time. The story progression and ending are satisfying though, making for a good evening’s entertainment. It’s well-worth watching; recommended.
The image sports solid color and contrast but I found a distinct lack of depth, almost as if there were a haze filter over the camera lens. Detail is a bit soft as a result, though the presentation is perfectly clean and free of grain and noise.
Audio is clean and clear as well with a broad front soundstage and snappy dialog that flows from the center channel free of chestiness and harsh edges.
There are no bonus features on this release.