Directed by: Martha Coolidge
Written by: Todd Graff
Starring: Geena Davis, James Gandolfini, Aida Turturro, Philip Bosco, Stephen Rea
Motherhood represents a process that no one can aptly prepare for. One can read all of the books, but once you hold that baby in your arms, everything else melts away. From there it becomes a learning process, which the titular character finds out. In the process of attempting to tell an uplifting story, Angie fails to handle the weight of its subject matter and therefore ends up with a muddled message and lackluster results.
After discovering her pregnancy, Angie (Geena Davis) learns plenty about the people around her and who can support her. Upon the news, she must contend with an unreliable boyfriend, Vinne (James Gandolfini) and a new love interest that suddenly enters her life, Noel (Stephen Rea). With the help of her friends from the neighborhood, Angie must learn how to get her life together as the baby prepares to enter the world.
Sold as a light-hearted look at the life of a woman whose life got turned around by a pregnancy, Angie had the potential of being something worth watching. Add Geena Davis and James Gandolfini to the mix and the prospects were high. Unfortunately, they were never met because the story does not come together cohesively. In its effort in trying to be light-hearted, it struggles to balance the tone of the story, therefore leaving me unsure of how serious to take certain situations that occur.
Angie represents another of Martha Coolidge’s films that I could just not get behind. She certainly loves New York and the people that reside within the state, but this film and Lost in Yonkers fail to make its story work. Coolidge can definitely select interesting female characters to follow in her films, but they rarely end up that way in the final product. In the case of Angie, she gets the opportunity to work with some actors already in their prime or ready to reach their breakout role.
Geena Davis took on this project years after her Oscar win and the choice seems peculiar. The character of Angie might be in her wheelhouse artistically but the accent simply did not work. I understand trying to be accurate to the character based on a novel but Davis should not have attempted that Brooklyn accent. This comes from someone that typically does not care for accent gaffes in other films, but this one truly stuck out. It made it such an odd viewing experience especially when comparing it to James Gandolfini. A few years before he would rise to prominence in The Sopranos, Gandolfini portrays a biological father not ready to be an actual father. That leaves Angie with the decision to leave him and take the responsibility completely on her shoulders. Gandolfini did what he could, but did not receive much to work with.
The rest of the story follows Angie’s new romance and how her friends attempt to help her in the process. It certainly touches on something important in motherhood. When she first announced her pregnancy, she thought that it all fell into place. She had her boyfriend and a neighborhood incredibly excited to support her. Angie’s development comes from learning that everything will line up perfectly and that life gets messy at times. That happens with her new romance and the rest of her experience up until the birth of her child. The support system that surrounds her has its flaws but she learns to accept that.
Angie could have been more, but what came on screen felt lackluster and not helped by a miscast lead actor. It has bits of humor and most of it does not land. Even with it having a good message to work with, the feature does not live up to it. Instead, we received a mediocre and forgettable film.