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Jennifer Aniston, Jake Gyllenhaal, John C. Reilly, Tim Blake Nelson, Zooey Deschanel

Directed by: Miguel Arteta
Written by: Mike White
Produced by: Matthew Greenfield, Kirk D'Amico, Philip von Alvensleben, Carol Baum
Distributor: Fox Searchlight

US: 09/08/02 UK: 10/01/03

A 30 year old married woman's mundane life takes a turn for the worse when she strikes up a passionate and illicit affair with an odd-ball discount store stock boy. He thinks thinks he's Holden Caulfield - the rebelious charcater from 'The Catcher In The Rye'. Working in a Texas discount store, she is dissatisfied by her routine and disgusted by her lazy, pot-smoking husband. Her life is nearly at a standstill, until she suddenly notices Holden (Jake Gyllenhaal) a few cash registers away. He is ten years younger and seemingly as disaffected as she, and together the two forge a passionate connection destined to shatter everything Justine stands for, or at least thinks she does.

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Jennifer Aniston has a bad hair day as the good girl


From the writer-director team that brought us the brilliant Chuck & Buck, here's another astute and askew look at human behaviour. Justine (Aniston) has done everything right, but she's bored with her dead-end life--her dopey and usually doped up husband (Reilly), her mind-numbing job at the Retail Rodeo with a bunch of losers in a faceless Texan suburb. Then she starts talking with one of her coworkers, Holden (Gyllenhaal), and the two somehow click. For the first time they feel they've found someone who gets them. But things are complicated: To Justine their affair seems just as pointless as everything else (and maybe there is a point to all that after all?), while to Holden it feels like the only way out.

There are moments of insight in this film that absolutely take your breath away, as the film dares to touch on things as they are rarely addressed in the cinema, most notably the absolute desperation and guilt most people live with every day but refuse to admit. Aniston gives a startlingly layered performance--funny and bright, yet fragile and deeply unsure what the right thing is. It's the heart versus head thing, but to her it's all so much more intertwined. And she's beautifully transparent as a woman coming to terms with her own adultery, her own desires, passions and responsibilities. The supporting cast is fantastic as well; Reilly and Gyllenhaal continue to be two of the best actors on screen at the moment. And Deschanel is hilarious as Justine's smart-mouthed coworker. Meanwhile, Arteta directs with simplicity that lifts out all of the textures of White's intricate and very accessible script. Together they avoid both predictability and sentiment in a way very few filmmakers can manage. This film isn't quite as tight and self-contained as Chuck & Buck; it breathes a bit more with the rough edges of real life. Don't miss it.


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