Just weeks before the deadline for his latest commission, composer Steven Lauddem (Peter Dinklage) has lost the creative spark that brought him international acclaim. At the urging of his ever-patient wife Patricia (Anne Hathaway), he searches for inspiration on the Brooklyn waterfront and finds it in Katrina (Marisa Tomei), a thrill-seeking tugboat captain docked in Red Hook, who soon has Steven questioning everything in his life.
With She Came to Me writer/director Rebecca Miller is able to craft a contemporary tale of mental stress. An exploration of the forks in the path of life, and the unassuming power of love in even the most random of encounters. What captivated me first was the lived in characters beginning with the fantastic collection of performances. Miller’s script is filled with smart humor, and plenty of heartfelt emotional turmoil. And with Dinklage, Hathaway, and Tomei in these roles the result is a story filled with characters that feel authentically troubled, and uniquely compelling each in their own way.
Dinklage’s Steven is an opera composer dealing with the depression of finding himself at a creative roadblock. He went through a case of writer’s block years earlier that resulted in therapy sessions with Hathaway’s Patricia, who he would end up marrying. But Steven feels this hurdle is different; he almost feels disillusioned with the profession he once loved. Patricia, a clean-freak and germaphobe, is ever supportive, as she constantly helps the maid tidy up their Brooklyn brownstone between her seemingly light patient list.
Steven ventures out one day and stumbles into Tomei’s Katrina, a rough-around-the-edges tugboat captain. There’s an immediate and equally odd connection between them and after a random bout of day sex on her boat, Steven suddenly has his creative spirit back. Patricia also has an 18-year-old son who is secretly dating the daughter of their cleaning lady. Who just so happens to only be 16. Which will be the fuse that pulls these various people from different lives together into one intertwining narrative. The comedy hits with a subtle charm, the sense of humor has a nice timing, and the emotional beats of the plot also land effectively. With neither ever undercutting the other giving the world Miller creates here an appealing emotional atmosphere.
The story does move nicely as it bounces from one storyline to the other and there is enough substance to build an effective element of appeal in each of these characters. Dinklage is intriguing as a heavily conflicted, but skilled composer at a low point. Hathaway is the energizer of this story with her obsessive complexes, high tension, and fantasies of being a nun. Tomei, however, certainly is the spotlight of the film. She brings a layered performance that lands so much natural emotion and genuine charm. Her character is really the most fleshed out of the script and Tomei takes it up a notch and makes the character her own. And I would say this trio overall certainly elevates the writing, Tomei in particular, who is able to bring life and dimension to her character and where she is in her life at the time of this story.
Which does lead to some of the drawbacks and while minimal, these issues would be found in the writing. The story is certainly ambitious in its attempt to cover a rather large collection of different lives to explore a variety of different themes. But the core to many of these characters, and what really fuels them, from a cinematic aspect, is a bit too thin. Now admittedly this movie does have a grounded atmosphere despite its spots of absurdist humor. Essentially it plays like a peek inside people simply living their normal lives. This matter-of-fact approach may work for some. However, for others it may result in character arcs feeling abandoned in the end, or not established as effectively as possible early on. Regardless, She Came to Me is engaging and at times a thought-provoking film with just enough heart and humor to resonate with its viewer, making it worth a watch.
CAST: Peter Dinklage, Anne Hathaway, Marisa Tomei, Evan Ellison, Harlow Jane, Joanna Kulig, Brian d’Arcy James, Judy Gold DIRECTOR: Rebecca Miller WRITER: Rebecca Miller DISTRIBUTOR: Vertical Entertainment RUNNING TIME: 102 minutes RATING: R (For language) YEAR: 2023 LANGUAGE: English GENRE: Comedy/Drama/Romance
Anthony J. Digioia II © 2023 SilverScreen Analysis.