Tribeca Breakdown: "Some Velvet Morning"

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Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve star in an independent romantic drama film written and directed by Neil LaBute. Velvet (Eve) is enjoying a tranquil morning when Fred (Tucci) walks into her brownstone and tells her he’s finally left his wife to be with her. Of course, Velvet hasn't seen him in four years… and now happens to be sleeping with his married son.
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Plot: The opening credit sequence starts off with a sexy blonde wearing a red dress, sexualized, but she is also blurred, making who she really is feel distant and a bit unattainable. It’s an interesting way of introducing the call-girl Velvet (Alice Eve) in Neil LaBute’s film “Some Velvet Morning”, one that will undoubtedly get compared to his 1997 film “In the Company of Men”, where women aren’t so much seen for being themselves but for what they mean to the men who control them.

The man here is Fred (Stanley Tucci), who shows up on Velvet’s doorstep with his suitcases packed, telling her that he has finally left his wife after 24 years of marriage to be with her. This is after four years where the two have had next to no contact.

 

Review: What follows utilizes LaBute’s gifts as a playwright as Fred, a man used to holding the control, comes with his pride wounded to the home of a former mistress and expects her to make it better. When he finds out that she’s moved on, she becomes his emotional hostage.

LaBute pulls back the curtain on these characters as this intense stand-off gets underway. Police intervention is ruled out, leaving a fantastic Tucci and Eve to work through a tricky slope of love vs. possession. It can be both a funny indictment of Fred’s obsessiveness and delusions about what he thinks love is or a really dark film where he really can't accept an answer of "No".

I think this is the best I’ve ever seen Stanley Tucci be. He’s a morally bankrupt, scary, disdainful character who feels he should be owed something for having to go through the turmoil that he himself has created. Eve on the other hand is more ambiguous; Velvet's is a profession that keeps the real person hidden and private, but now that the gloves are off, she holds her own with painful doses of reality for Fred and sorta skews that line between prostitute and therapist, although it's also uncomfortably obvious that she's also trying to talk him down from doing something terribly rash.

LaBute may get too clever with the ending, which opens the door to a whole new set of questions, but much like “Before Midnight” I saw earlier in the festival, this is a brilliant look at a couple trying to work out its issues.

 

4 out of 5 stars