See our Best of Detroit 2020 winners.

Wednesday, August 27, 1997

Career Girls

Posted By on Wed, Aug 27, 1997 at 12:00 AM

British director-writer Mike Leigh is in danger of becoming the maestro of actorly tics.

Although his method of cobbling his scenarios out of improvisational sessions with his players has yielded a series of sharply observed comedy-dramas -- the most fully realized one being 1991's Life Is Sweet -- it also encourages his actors to rely rather heavily on character-defining mannerisms. Often these are used to good effect, but with Career Girls the concept comes a cropper -- sniffles, grimaces and various spasms can't compensate for underdeveloped characters in a sentimental and unbelievable story.

The movie is structured as a series of time jumps, centering around Hannah (Katrin Cartlidge) and Annie (Lynda Steadman), seen alternately as punkish, outcast college flat-mates in the mid-'80s and as ostensibly better-adjusted, polished working women in the present. The film's problems begin early on as the young roomies are presented as broad caricatures: Hannah as a manic gesticulator and babbler, Annie as twitchy and pathetically shy, with a disfiguring case of acne that seems to have slithered in from The Creeping Unknown. Matters aren't helped by the introduction of Ricky, a flinching obese stutterer who speaks in cryptic half-phrases.

We meet the trio again during the present-day scenes, Hannah and Annie having learned how to suppress the more obvious manifestations of their still-present neuroses and Ricky, alas, having sunk deeper into his private world.

Career Girls isn't actually a bad film -- there's much to watch on a scene-by-scene basis, and even ostentatious acting can provoke a certain admiration. It's just a disappointing one from an excellent director.

Richard C. Walls writes about the arts for Metro Times. E-mail him at letters@metrotimes.com.

Tags:

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Detroit Metro Times works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Detroit and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Detroit's true free press free.

More by Richard C. Walls

Read the Digital Print Issue

October 14, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit