A multi-storied, fish-eyed look at the human condition against the backdrop of contemporary middle-class LA. Twenty two characters intersect, profoundly and fleetingly, through each other’s lives. It runs the emotional gamut from disturbing to humorous.
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At the risk of heresy, I don't think this is top-shelf Altman. The cast is an amazing who's-who of everyone in indie films circa 1990, and there's a certain pleasure to the way the plot diffuses, with loose ends splayed in all directions. But it's also stretched thin and uneven, with its characters feeling less like complete people than like actors showing off their chops.
Julianne Moore, naked, talking to Matthew Modine, Chris Penn losing his temper, Jack Lemmon leaving the hospital, Jennifer Jason Leigh as a phone sex operator and Fred Ward urinating in the river: moments of grace offered by Robert Altman to Movie History. Highly recommended.