Directed by Anthony Drazan
Cast: Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Chazz Palminteri, Robin Wright Penn, Anna Paquin, Garry Shandling, Meg Ryan.
1998 123 minutes
Rated: (for profanity, sex, and excessive drug use).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, June 25, 1999.
"Hurlyburly" is an actors' dream, but there is a nearly non-existent storyline. Set "a little while ago" in Los Angeles, Eddie (Sean Penn) is a casting director who lives in a high-profile home in the Hollywood hills with his cold business partner, Mickey (Kevin Spacey), and a nasty-tempered struggling actor, Phil (Chazz Palminteri). The film follows them through a year in their life, centering on Eddie, who slowly begins to realize that a life full of nothing but drugs, sex, and partying is an empty life, indeed. Overly talky, no doubt due to the fact that it is based on a stage play, but just when I was about to give up on the mostly dispicable characters in the second half, the gentle, touching ending snuck up and left me emotionally shaken. Sean Penn has never been better than he is here, and that's saying quite a lot, while Anna Paquin (of 1993's "The Piano," for which she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar at age 11), as a lost teenage wanderer, is remarkably refined, a character chamelion if I've ever seen one. Also of note is Meg Ryan, who sheds her "cutesy" image as a prostitute with a young daughter. Too bad more couldn't have happened in the plot department to equal up to the performances.
©1999 by Dustin Putman