Unhook The Stars

on November 01, 1996 by Pat Kramer
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   In his feature film directorial debut, Nick Cassavetes (John's son) has effectively cast his mother, two-time Academy Award nominee Gena Rowlands, in the lead role of the widow Mildred, who's desperately searching for a purpose in life after her grown children have moved away. When trouble looms for her next-door neighbor, Monica (Marisa Tomei), Mildred offers to help by watching Monica's six-year-old boy, J.J. (Jake Lloyd). In the process, Mildred is drawn into an engaging relationship with both mother and son. But there too her usefulness comes to an end, requiring her to choose between a future that's dependent on her well-to-do son or another chance at life on her own terms.
   Rowlands so perfectly embodies the role of Mildred that's it's a pleasure to watch her as she brings the character to life. Hers is the role around which the others pivot, principally the hard-core, trash-talking Monica and the soft-spoken J.J. French star Gerard Depardieu plays the role of Tommy, the bar patron and truck driver who makes a pass at Mildred, reawakening her womanhood.
   However, despite all the actors' best efforts, "Unhook the Stars" eventually meanders into too many different directions, spending perhaps more time than it should on Monica's failed marriage and less time than necessary on Mildred's relationship with her angry daughter and distant son. The ending also remains unclear, leaving the audience with unanswered questions at the end of what could be an even more moving and poignant film about a second coming of age for this modern-day widow. Starring Gena Rowlands, Marisa Tomei and Gerard Depardieu. Directed by Nick Cassavetes. Written by Nick Cassavetes and Helen Caldwell. Produced by Rene Cleitman. A Miramax release. Drama. Rated R for strong language. Running time: 105 min
Tags: Gena Rowlands, Marisa Tomei, Gerard Depardieu, Nick Cassavetes, Helen Caldwell, Rene Cleitman, trash-talking, pivot, marriage, modern-day
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