Living Out Loud


Apparently, it’s called Living Out Loud because its characters scream at each other and divulge their most intimate secrets to strangers. No, it’s not a Jerry Springer episode, but a glossy comedy-drama about three New Yorkers of diverse backgrounds who make improbable emotional connections and help each other overcome their similar neuroses and live their dreams. In other words, it’s As Good As It Gets, Part Deux.

Judith (a blond Holly Hunter) is a Fifth Avenue divorceé whose journey of self-discovery begins when she walks on the wild (Upper West) side and is kissed by a stranger in a jazz club. Suddenly, she is able to notice Pat (Danny DeVito), her elevator operator, who’s also coping with financial and personal losses. In a more conventional romantic comedy, Judith and Pat would defy class barriers and become a couple, but her newfound self-realization does not extend to acknowledging her attraction to him. Judith does cross racial barriers to befriend a jazz singer, Liz (Queen Latifah), who avoids commitment by associating with gay men. While the film ridicules the use of African Americans as a pop-cultural symbol of raw emotional candor, that’s nonetheless how it employs Liz.

Richard LaGravenese peppers his directorial debut with the narrative trickery (fantasy sequences, flashbacks) that often tangles his sceenplays (The Fisher King, Beloved). He continues to display a rare sensitivity to women’s emotional lives (he’s also adapted such Lifetime-y novels as The Horse Whisperer), and the scenes in which Judith enjoys a masseur’s full-service visit and a grope session at a lesbian club are refreshingly nonjudgmental. They’re also, like much of the movie, woozily absurd.