December 14, 1998 -- "Living Out Loud" is a movie with some wonderful moments in it and some excellent performances, but it is a little too disjointed to really work as well as it should.
The story is about an unlikely romance between a diminutive elevator operator, Pat Francato, played by Danny DeVito and a wealthy building tenant, Judith Nelson, played by Holly Hunter ("Raising Arizona," "Broadcast News"). Nelson has just been dumped by her husband for a younger woman. DeVito is also alone and his daughter is dying.
Nelson likes Francato, but doesn't want to get romantically involved with him. Francato, on the other hand, loves Nelson and that love gives him a second chance at life. It gives him the incentive to get out of debt and to work at starting his own business. Nelson wants to go back to school to earn her medical degree, but has a hard time working up the courage to start over.
While drowning her sorrows one night, she meets a singer at a night club who becomes her best friend, Liz Bailey, (played by real life singer Queen Latifah). It turns out that Latifah, a rap artist, can belt out the blues and show tunes with the best of them, and she is a fine actress, stealing scenes from her better known counterparts. In fact, DeVito, Hunter and Latifah are all great in this film. The characters are well drawn and the dialogue by Richard LaGravenese, who also directed the film, is very good.
The problem I had with the film was that it was so disjointed with fantasy scenes and skipping ahead months at a time, that you couldn't quite figure out where it was headed. The ending, especially, was abrupt and inconclusive. The ending gave hints of where the story was headed, but it did not advance the story much or let you know what the characters were feeling. I felt cheated by the ending. The rest of the film was pretty good, especially the performances and the music (including a very strange fantasy lesbian line dancing number).
This film rates a C +.
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