I can’t exactly put my finger on why, but this has always been one of my favourite films. It is not because of the story where two brothers, one talented and one not so much, work together and don’t really get along. There is nothing really super original in that. And it is not because there are any twists or surprises in where the story is going. We all know what is going to happen in the end. Somehow, though, director Steven Kloves (Flesh and Bone) makes the film more about lounge music and Michelle Pfeiffer on top of a piano. This scene became all that people talked about about the film, but it is so much more than that in my eyes.
The three lead actors make their characters really believable three dimensional human beings, who, despite all their faults, we end up empathizing with. None of them becomes the ‘bad’ guy. Michelle Pfeiffer was very brave in taking a role that could have been quite embarrassing and one-dimensional. If you have not seen this film and you are in any way a Michelle Pfeiffer fan then this film is a must as she steals almost every scene she is in. She is a great actress (who can sing) with a face that is perfect for the camera. Jeff Bridges is also perfect as the sexy and sullen Baker brother. Never has a playing the piano with a cigarette dangling out of your mouth been so sexy!
The film is definitely one for adults with some mature themes and by that I don’t mean sexual. It explores life choices, unfulfilled talent and sibling relationships in its dark and grainy scenes. Until the end it moves along a fairly constant pace. It is a film you can watch time and time again and still manage to get more out of each time. Great acting, writing, music, and, yeah, Michelle Pfeiffer rolling around on top of a Steinway piano…what more could you ask for?
For 31 years the Baker Brothers, Frank (Jeff Bridges – Seabiscuit, The Big Lebowski) and Jack (Beau Bridges – Jerry Maguire, Charlotte’s Web) have been playing schmaltzy piano/lounge music together. Frank, the younger brother, is a brilliant pianist who really would rather be playing jazz music and Jack is a family man who just wants to make enough money to support them. After many years together they realize that it is getting harder and harder to get gigs. After deciding that they need to change things up a bit the brothers hold open auditions for a female vocalist. They audition what seems like half of Seattle without any luck when in walks Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer – What Lies Beneath, White Oleander). She is late but somehow finagles an audition and ends up wowing them. The act now is a hit and they have no trouble booking gigs. The underlying competitiveness between the brothers seems to be surfacing time and time again. Success is not sweet. Life on the road begins to wear on them and the cracks begin to show in the relationship between the brothers. As they say, you know that something’s gotta give.