She Came to Me, 2023.
Written and Directed by Rebecca Miller.
Starring Peter Dinklage, Marisa Tomei, Anne Hathaway, Brian d’Arcy James, Joanna Kulig, Chris Gethard, Harlow Jane, Jen Ponton, Aalok Mehta, Samuel H. Levine, Evan Ellison, Judy Gold, Sandos Diaz, Joseph Oltman, George Sheanshang, Francesca Faridany, Tamya Taylor, Bryan Terrell Clark, Dale Soules, Isabel Leonard, and Greer Grimsley.
A composer who suffers writer’s block rediscovers his passion after an adventurous one-night stand.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, She Came to Me wouldn’t exist.
From writer/Director Rebecca Miller, She Came to Me is an unmitigated disaster to be pushed away. There are competing plot points sloppily edited into an overarching narrative with so little grace that it often feels like watching three separate movies, getting 15-minute chunks of each at a time because the filmmakers have no idea how to keep the proceedings cutting and flowing with momentum and storytelling purpose.
Matters aren’t helped when one considers that the story that is here, one with a throughline of extreme romance expressed by questionable actions and impulsive characters that act on those feelings without thinking of the consequences, is a mess that only gets more ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious the longer it goes on and connects the threads. Somehow, this film also has a respectable ensemble, including several noteworthy names (upon further investigation of who Rebecca Miller is tied to, it all makes sense why these names are attached regardless of quality.)
Peter Dinklage deserves credit for refusing to be pigeonholed into stereotypical and otherwise condescending dwarven roles, largely avoiding being made into a punchline or paraded around for corporate goodwill (his infamous rejection of playing one of the seven dwarves in the upcoming Snow White remake, slamming Disney in the process is proof of that.) Instead, he frequently takes roles that easily could have gone to able-bodied individuals, fitting right into those characters like a glove, and, as a fellow disabled person, has my utmost respect for that. That doesn’t mean every role he takes is a winner, though.
Here, Peter Dinklage plays depressed opera composer Steven Lauddem, stuck in a creative rut. He is also married to his former therapist, Anne Hathaway’s Patricia. She still sees patients (oddballs that amusingly ramble about imagining her naked during a session, which leads to one of the only semi-decent and funny scenes in the movie) but has adapted to married life and expresses that she enjoys cleaning, going as far as helping out the new housewife Magdalena (Joanna Kulig) whenever she has free time.
There are also cutaways establishing the secret relationship between Magdalena’s 16-year-old daughter Tereza (Harlow Jane) and her 18-year-old boyfriend, Patricia’s son Julian (Evan Ellison.) It is also made known that Patricia remarried after her husband died. The age distinction is also crucial to note since it plays into the greater story when Tereza’s stepfather, Trey (Brian d’Arcy James), a courtroom notetaker who dabbles in historical LARPing portraying Confederate soldiers, discovers sexualized camera photographs of her, making it clear to him that these two are often intimate with one another.
Before expanding on that bit of narrative absurdity, there is even more going on here, as Steven, exploring the town seeking inspiration, befriends seductive tugboat captain Katrina (Marisa Tomei), a woman who admits she is mentally unwell and immediately romantically falls for people she barely knows, also having been arrested for stalking those individuals after they want nothing more to do with her. Naturally, she and Steven have a one-night stand that begins serving as the inspiration for his comeback opera show.
It takes over an hour for She Came to Me to crystallize with the narrative clarity, but it is ultimately a story about hopeless romantics, flawed, and lovesick individuals banding together to future-proof the relationship between Tereza and Julian since the former’s cartoonishly evil guardian (seriously, how do you take a character with legitimate concerns such as these and then use him as over-the-top antagonist material) is hell-bent on ensuring the boyfriend’s life is ruined.
The ensemble is desperately trying here, but with each passing scene and every line they speak, the film somehow becomes dumber, cheesier, more unintentionally hilarious, and more tone-deaf. Stay far, far away from She Came to Me.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com