In Living Out Loud, we’re asked to believe that Holly Hunter, as a nurse who’s in the middle of divorcing her loutish cardiologist husband (Martin Donovan), would fall under the spell of a deadbeat elevator operator played by Danny DeVito. Hunter, swilling martinis, makes a wistful spectacle of depression and heartache, yet she can’t help but light up the screen with her feisty gamine spark (I’d hardly want it otherwise). Inevitably, we’re led to the question, Why would this charming, effervescent woman, living on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, fixate her attention upon a melancholy 50ish lunk who has nothing going for him apart from the fact that he’s nice, and who exudes all the rugged erotic magnetism of…Danny DeVito?
The first film directed, as well as written, by Richard LaGravenese (the screenwriter of The Bridges of Madison County and The Fisher King, among others), Living Out Loud is like An Unmarried Woman recast as a sitcom-cute update of Marty. Once again, we’re put in the position of watching ”little people” act out their desperate search for love. DeVito certainly makes a convincing sad sack, but Hunter is too alive a performer to get boxed into LaGravenese’s smugly patronizing design. This is a movie that instructs you how to feel — never more so than when Queen Latifah shows up as a nightclub singer whose only apparent purpose is to anoint Hunter, and the audience, with her sassy, funky, soulful…etc. C