She Came to Me, the new film from writer/director Rebecca Miller (in cinemas on October 6), may seem like a merlot-soaked romantic dramedy, what with its title card being saturated in boiling crimson wine. It turns out that the picture is more of a red herring than a red wine, employing its roster of renowned actors to draw in a crowd for a project that doesn’t deserve their abilities.Thank you for reading this post, don't forget to subscribe!
Anne Hathaway, who is no stranger to being the greatest part of a lousy movie, sits quietly by while the picture goes around in circles and does nothing to save it. One of the greatest disappointments of the year has been achieved.
The delightfully offbeat narrative of She Came to Me promises much. Peter Dinklage’s opera composer wife (Anne Hathaway) urges him to go out and see the city, but he ends up finding solace in the arms of a down-and-out tugboat operator (Marisa Tomei). Miller, meanwhile, seemed to be at a loss as to how to go with her own great concept. The film’s tone is all over the place since the characters and plotlines collide without much enthusiasm, and the results of those encounters are inconsistent. Even though Hathaway injects just the right amount of personality to make her performance the most interesting aspect of the movie, the dull script constantly undermines her efforts.
Dinklage’s character, Steven Lauddem, first appears as he tries to avoid answering questions from his colleagues at a business event. That makes sense because his previous opera caused his terrible breakdown and subsequent despair. Now that the score for his next performance is due in only two weeks, he can’t seem to get himself motivated to complete it. Patricia, his devoted wife, is trying her best to assist him despite her own commitments to her private counseling practice and to Julian (Evan Ellison), her college-aged son from a previous marriage. She can only suggest that Steven go for a stroll around the city to see if he gets any inspiration.
She Came to Me may be Miller’s vision of the perfect New York picture, but it falls well short of capturing the spirit of the world’s finest and most romantic city. Despite Tomei’s dedication to her portrayal of a love-addicted tugboat captain, Katrina, their fortuitous encounter doesn’t lead to much of anything.
Perhaps it’s because viewers unfamiliar with the geography of New York City’s outer boroughs will find Katrina’s time spent moored at the Brooklyn Navy Yard to be completely out of place. Miller’s attempt to tell a classic New York narrative via their encounter comes out as overly contrived and coincidental. Except for the outside of a Brooklyn Heights townhouse and some B-roll, She Came to Me might be set in any major city in the United States.
Still, Katrina and Steven have a short fling, and she ends up becoming his grease-covered inspiration. In the meantime, a subplot involving Julian and his girlfriend Tereza (Harlow Jane) develops; Tereza is the daughter of Patricia and Steven’s new housekeeper, Magdalena (Joanna Kulig), further complicating Steven’s life and the film. Miller fails to balance the several storylines going on at once, and as a result, the audience loses track of who or what the picture is about.
Thankfully, the vivid colors and unusual scene compositions provided by cinematographer Sam Levy’s pictures provide She Came to Me with at least one interesting item to chew on. Miller’s confusing creative choices, however, diminish the film’s most compelling elements, even when they look terrific. The film’s aspect ratio shifts regularly, with “romantic” sequences shot with a narrower frame and daily conversations filmed with a wider one. The numerous changes in aspect ratio are also a poor choice that pulls the spectator out of the picture just when they are beginning to believe Miller’s pitch.
The actors don’t appear anymore in the know, though; they vacillate aimlessly about the periphery of their characters’ identities without ever providing a solid explanation for the shifts. Hathaway’s ability to credibly portray a therapist caricature, a neurotic clean-freak, and a psychosexual nun (yes, really) in the course of 90 minutes is a testament to her brilliance.
But the script doesn’t do much to explain the characters’ compulsions and reasons beyond, “This is what modern love is like in 2023!” Thus, we’re left wondering why her demeanor is so erratic. Miller does not find the comedy in any of the circumstances, despite the fact that they are all hilarious on their own. Since there are no jokes in She Came to Me, even a mild one would stick out like a sore thumb.
The fact that Dinklage, Tomei, and Kulig all have painfully one-note characters doesn’t help the increasingly muddled plot; in fact, Dinklage and Kulig stand out as seeming especially miscast. Everyone else is terribly miscast, and even Hathaway, who can command attention and make even the most two-dimensional script come alive, appears to have trouble with Miller’s awkward language. The film’s largest set piece, Steven’s opera about a tugboat sailor who murders and eats men, is also the film’s weakest link, coming across as unpleasant and humorless.
Miller seems to have wanted to make a film that would focus on how social norms impact how people express their love and feelings for one another. Even though there’s a lot that might be said about love in the present day, Miller stays silent until the very end. In its place, a haze of banal pandering to the few who may like a batty dramedy rises and quickly dissipates every potential for serious insight.