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film review
  • She Came to Me
  • Written and directed by Rebecca Miller
  • Starring Peter Dinklage, Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomei
  • Classification N/A; 102 minutes
  • Opens in select theatres Oct. 6

Critic’s Pick

The common wisdom amongst moviegoers not interested in whatever Spider-Man is up to these days is that there simply aren’t enough movies being made for adults that focus on original characters. To that notion, writer-director Rebecca Miller would say, “Just watch me. Oh, and also here’s a sex-addicted tugboat captain played by Marisa Tomei.”

In Miller’s She Came to Me, the American filmmaker whose work is so often and unfairly overshadowed by her family history (she’s the daughter of Arthur Miller and the wife of Daniel Day-Lewis), conjures up one of the more wholly “original” romantic comedies to come along in years. The catch: the resulting tale just might be too indie-cinema idiosyncratic for even the most quirk-starved audience.

The dominant plot thread focuses on New York opera composer Steven (Peter Dinklage), an irascible genius who is suffering a serious case of writer’s block. Urged by his wife Patricia (Anne Hathaway) to take walks around the city to clear his head, Steven meets Katrina (Tomei), the aforementioned lascivious tugboat captain who lures her new friend to bed, and thus inspires Steven’s new Salomé-esque production. That might be enough of a unique crisis to fuel an entire feature film, but Miller is far from done.

Her secondary narrative focuses on Patricia, a type-A therapist who decides to become a nun and give up her worldly possessions, a crisis that has nothing to do with Steven’s affair. Meanwhile, a third storyline traces the teenage love affair between Steven and Patricia’s son Julian (Evan Ellison) and Tereza (Harlow Jane), which is threatened by Tereza’s overprotective stepfather (Brian d’Arcy James), who happens to be a Civil War re-enactment fanatic (and yes, this detail becomes crucial to the film’s madcap third act).

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She Came to Me is overstuffed to be sure, but in an admirable way that underlines Miller’s fierce desire to enchant and entertain an audience looking for stories about people, not intellectual property.

The entire affair, or affairs rather, are also enlivened by sparkling performances from a stacked cast. Dinklage by this point in his career has the grumpy-smart-aleck thing nailed down cold, while Tomei uses a deft, sensitive touch to anchor a sometimes overly complex and exceptionally strange role. (She also might make you want to seek out your city’s nearest port.) And Hathaway gets to once again, after her turn in last year’s Armageddon Time, try her very best to play a Jewish woman despite mispronouncing the word “kreplach” (as in the traditional Jewish soup dumpling) approximately five different ways in the span of 35 seconds.

So, yes, there are at least four movies stuffed into She Came to Me. But depending on your tolerance for eccentricity, each is still entertaining enough on its own to make Miller’s lark an experience to remember. And perhaps vigorously debate afterward. Which is more than you can say about the latest adventure involving Spidey and Company.

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