Lisa Schwarzbaum
February 21, 1997 AT 05:00 AM EST

Unhook the Stars

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
performer
Gena Rowlands, Marisa Tomei, Gerard Depardieu, Moira Kelly, Jake Lloyd
director
Nick Cassavetes

We gave it an B-

In Unhook the Stars, Nick Cassavetes cooks up a star turn for his mother, Gena Rowlands: She plays Mildred, an independent-minded suburban widow — a kind of Aurora Greenway lite — with a square, married son and a furiously alienated grown daughter who screams a lot and moves out of the house. Mildred is unfazed, however; her worldview is widened by her relationship with a slatternly, sewer-mouthed neighbor (Marisa Tomei, who must fight, fight, fight against cutesiness, now and forever) and, particularly, with the younger woman’s sweet, somber-faced little son (Jake Lloyd). Rowlands is swell in that sexy-no-nonsense-older-woman role she does so well (Gerard Depardieu appears pleasantly but improbably as a French Canadian truck driver smitten by Mildred’s classy, sassy self). But this adoring character study of a woman under nobody’s influence (cowritten by Cassavetes and Helen Caldwell) is too long on sentimentality, and far too long on Tomei’s stylized tough chick routine.

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