LIFE/DRAWING Image

LIFE/DRAWING

By Stephanie Donnelly | October 2, 2001

It can be tricky when a movie involving humans, love, and some carefully implemented wackiness — be it the silly and wise best buddy and/or the colorful ensemble cast — is invariably described as a chick flick, because for as many (of the many) movies that are aimed at the estrogen-rich of the species, there are quite a few fine films that remember that romance isn’t just for the ladyfolk. “Life/Drawing” plays fair and lets boys and girls in on the madness, and has ridiculous amounts of fun doing it.
Alex (up-and-comer Mark Ruffalo) is a pretentious young artist who gets dumped by both his pretentious model-ly girlfriend and his pretentious gallery within the course of a Hollywood minute. His paintings, he’s told, have “no soul” – the ultimate artist’s put-down. He finds quick refuge in a low-rent apartment building run riot with wiggy L.A. neighbors, governed by ultra-zany landlord Ray (Alan Gelfant, who gets my vote for Hottest Man in a Members Only windbreaker this year.)
And then along comes Lori (Beth Ulrich), a spritely Air Force alum from Colorado who’s clearly worlds away from the L.A. women of Alex’s date files. But Alex and Lori ignite, and neighbors dutifully meddle. Alex pouts. Lori persists. What goes down? Well, at one point, when a helpful Ray suggests that Alex “get back on the horse,” Alex responds, “F**k the horse and the horse it rode in on.” Grrrr.
“Life/Drawing” more than lives up to its romantic comedy pedigree, however, and Alex gets his act together. What sets this film apart from the gaggle of boy-meets-girl offerings out there is that it does a fine job reminding us that love, and true inspiration, only come after the soul’s nasty bits (in this case, Alex’s artistic constipation from constant head-over-heart ploys) are remedied and the door to possibility is left open.
I was so caught up in a moment where Alex is bungling a Sunday morning bed-and-crosswords conversation with the lady that I dropped my drink and, in the same second, the man sitting in front of me blurted out a surprised “SHIIIT!” Was he, like me, moved by Alex’s confusion or did he realize that I’d spilled Dr. Pepper on his briefcase? I tend to think the former.

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