Marguerite Moreau is kind of adorable in Easy, even as her character blunders along in her love life, leaping to conclusions about the men in her life that make her feel foolish even when she's correct. I liked her Jamie Harris, even as I was occasionally aggravated by the situations writer/director Jane Weinstock put her in.Part of the problem is that this movie takes what Roger Ebert calls the Law of Conservation of Characters to an extreme. Jamie appears to know approximately seven or eight people (including family) in this movie, and once the movie is past its midpoint, the only way a new person is going to be introduced is if another character gives birth. So when Jamie's life takes on the characteristics of a soap opera, it's among a group of characters so tight-knit that it almost feels incestuous. I was shocked that D.B. Woodside's character (a chiropractor who lives next door to Jamie) didn't get sucked in. I mean, it would have made more sense than some of the other inevitable pairings. Maybe they could have done something with him and the woman whose suicide Jamie prevents early on, as she disappears soon afterward.
The group is so constrained that I really noticed that Jamie has one of those jobs - a "namer" - that exists in real life but whose function in the movie seems to be that it lets her work from home and somewhat insulate herself from the world at large, which may contain practical people. Note that her first boyfriend, played by Naveen Andrews, also has one of those jobs, being a "poet". It also means that Jamie can wind up in more awkward situations than is really credible.
Which is too bad; I like Jamie and some of her supporting cast. I know she's meant to be something of a screw-up, but she seems to be the one his is dumped on more often than not, and aside from being pretty, she's big-hearted and funny. Of course, I sometimes had to remind myself that Moreau is playing an adult rather than the teenager that actresses with her looks often play, but that's on Hollywood, not her. I liked her sister, played by Emily Deschanel, although I thought potential boyfriend #2 (Brian F. O'Byrne) did seem a little bland for someone who was supposed to be a professional funnyman.It's too bad that one pretty damn good performance can only take a movie so far. Ms. Moreau makes Easy worth watching, and her worth watching out for as an actress, but can't raise the movie as a whole out of mediocrity.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Boston Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Boston Film Festival series, click here.