Do you like Heather Graham? I mean do you really like her? Do you know exactly how many seconds it takes to fast-forward Boogie Nights to the scene where she first has sex with Mark Wahlberg without taking off her roller-skates? Do you remember that cold, empty feeling that hit you in the stomach the first time you saw that restraining order? I bet you wished someone served her with a restraining order.
Well, now's the chance to see Heather in the stalker's seat. She's not quite the stalker you once were-she's only an over-committed wife, but those details will not be important when you're watching the camera move over the curves of her ample bosom, her tight stomach, her long legs, hugged lovingly by red-leather pants. And though you're probably not, Heather Graham is finally getting some respect-she is in every scene of her new movie Committed.
Graham's newest movie makes clever use of its title-Graham is both extremely attached to her husband and does a short stint in an insane asylum. She plays Joline, a New York club owner with a heart of gold. Joline leads a blessed life (as if you didn't already know this) and she is known as a woman who never ever goes back on her word. When Joline's husband Carl (Luke Wilson), a photojournalist whose employer is limiting him to culinary photography, leaves her with the only clue to his whereabouts-a postcard with a cactus on it from a state that looks like it has five letters in its name-she does the only logical thing she can do. She rents a car, packs a suitcase full of see-through but Hindi-influenced t-shirts, and drives to Texas (Maine, the other five letter state, doesn't have cacti).
This is not a road movie; Joline actually spends very little time on the road. Nevertheless, most of the time when people in movies take road trips west, it is to embrace freedom and the wide-open spaces of this great nation. Director Lisa Krueger enjoys the contrast with this film-unlike Thelma or Louise, Joline heads west to remain bonded in matrimony and to keep her husband from being free as well. And Krueger makes sure to keep us entertained. Along the way, Joline meets a sculptor, Neil (Goran Visnjic) who can do something you would never be able to do. He can make Joline (and by proxy Graham) have an orgasm without even touching her. Joline's would- be incestuous (and who wouldn't be) brother Jay (Casey Affleck) follows her west to check up on her, and the two of them meet Carl's new girlfriend Carmen (Patricia Velasquez), who is alarmed to discover that Carl is married and so leaves him for Jay. Carmen can see very clearly that Joline is a spiritual person (must be her shirts) so she introduces her to a medicine man (Alfonso Arau) who teaches her to use magic so she can "protect" and "keep a watchful eye" (familiar terms, eh?) over her hubby.
Whatever one may think of Graham's abilities as an actress, she does very well in Committed, walking the fine line between commitment to ideals and obsession and insanity. And while it will shock nobody that Committed is not hard to watch visually, it may surprise some that this movie isn't at all painful to sit through. It is actually rather fun, and funny at points. In a jealous rage Joline sticks a banana into Carmen's fuel tank, and then confesses to her later-you may not be on the floor in tears, but this is not one of those romantic comedies that forgets the comedy. And while the film may not be profound it is not unoriginal, I mean, Heather Graham in every scene, now that in itself is a great idea. B