Quirky rom com manages to divert — despite the tacky surrounds

2009-08-24 00:00

THE prospect of watching a movie at Ster-Kinekor in Scottsville never lifts the spirits. Bughouses of old were scruffy and full of character, their glory days so long gone they could promise no more than the comfort of a favourite tatty jersey. But Ster-Kinekor still hangs tenuously on to an illusion of class, which makes the neglect more noticeable. On Saturday afternoon the floors of the men’s toilets were awash. The movie seats teetered back ominously and groaned with every slight movement. I noticed the barcode stickers on the speakers are still waiting to be peeled off many years after they were installed. When the projector started rolling we were treated to the trailer of The Proposal twice. And when the opening credits of Management came on, the projection room efforts to steady the frame were an absorbing distraction until things calmed down sufficiently to see what was going on.

Jennifer Aniston plays Sue, an uptight, slightly lost, could-be-sweet, travelling saleswoman of kitschy paintings that decorate cheap hotels and waiting rooms. Steve Zahn is Mike, the slightly lost, very awkward night manager of his parents’ motel. The two start up a stuttering sort-of relationship that no one would ever expect to go anywhere. Except Mike, who follows Sue across the country to persuade her that he’s the man for her. If you’re a Woody Harrelson fan, be patient: he finally surfaces as Sue’s ex-boyfriend, an ex-punk- turned-yoghurt-mogul, in one of several wacky touches to an offbeat love story.

The characters are all in their own way stuck in lives they have made the most of and emotions they can’t quite grow out of. Mike’s dreams are stunted by a terminally ill mother and a father whose life stopped when he came back from the Vietnam war. He’s a misfit who does yoga and eats Chinese as he tries to find a way to feel comfortable.

Sue hides from herself through good deeds and being on the move. Their false starts towards self-actualisation are poignantly doomed although ultimately affirming. The zany humour always steers the movie away from being depressing. It stutters from time to time, but always manages to get back on track. Something Ster-Kinekor management hasn’t got quite right.

***

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