In the Spirit

Two middle-aged women who have lost their husbands—the widowed owner of a health food store (Marlo Thomas) and the recently abandoned wife (Elaine May) of an executive (Peter Falk)—uneasily but triumphantly join forces when they find themselves the joint victims of a murder plot, in a comedy thriller written by costar Jeannie Berlin (Elaine May's daughter) and Laurie Jones, and directed by Sandra Seacat. Seacat, a longtime associate of the Actor's Studio, seems more comfortable with her fine cast—which also includes Olympia Dukakis and, in a cameo, Melanie Griffith—than with the mechanics of filmmaking per se, and it takes the movie a while to get started; but once it does, the funnier elements in the script (such as the New Age satire), the charisma of the actors, and the persuasive (and unpushy) feminist message glide one past the relative uncertainties in the storytelling. And it's nice to see both Berlin and May collaborating in a movie again.

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