McDormand plays Jane, the strung out and stoned music producer mother to Sam (Christian Bale). After Sam gets a job near LA, he and his girlfriend Alex (Kate Beckinsale) pack their bags to stay in his mom's house while she's away for work. But unfortunately for Sam, Jane hasn't left; she's still holed up in the house slaving away on a band's latest album. To hear about the rest,
Between her hippie attitude and new rocker boyfriend (Alessandro Nivola), Jane is a constant embarrassment to her son, but Alex is intrigued by Jane's alternative lifestyle — which only causes conflict between mother and son and boyfriend and girlfriend. Even though many of Jane's actions are completely deplorable (one act of motherly betrayal is a particular jaw-dropper), McDormand approaches the role with such a free-spirited ardor that you can't help but like Jane, despite her flaws. The supporting actors also turn in satisfying performances, but this story itself just didn't grab me. The plot feels sluggish, building toward a finale that kind of gets dropped. See it for McDormand who has complexity in spades, but if you're worried that a great performance alone won't do it for you, bypass this one.
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