Twice in a Lifetime | Chicago Reader

Twice in a Lifetime

Gene Hackman as a solid, plain-speaking, blue-collar family man; Ellen Burstyn as his emotionally shriveled, timid wife; and Ann-Margret as the vivacious, warmhearted widow with whom Hackman falls in love. Directed by Bud Yorkin (one of the dominant personalities behind All in the Family), this weightless melodrama exhibits the kind of condescending “fairness” (nobody's right, nobody's wrong—these things just happen, that's all) that is often taken for artistic maturity, but just as frequently reflects a reluctance to engage the material on a deep emotional level. Yorkin skitters along the surface, limiting the characterizations to blandly pleasant TV stereotypes, stifling the situations with psychobabble when the feelings threaten to become unmanageable. You only have to compare it to any random Cassavetes film to know how phony it is, yet this is the sort of comforting phoniness (Yorkin suggests that the wife is better off for being dumped—she'll be able to find herself now) that has always meant box office. With Amy Madigan, Ally Sheedy, Stephen Lang, and Darrell Larson; the screenplay is by Colin Welland (Chariots of Fire).

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