Me Without You. Sandra Goldbacher. Friendship is almost as complicated and compelling as love. It's romance without the sex, whether between members of the same or opposite sexes. Marina (Anna Friel) -- pretty, vivacious and rebellious on the outside but insecure and empty on the inside -- and Holly (Michelle Williams) -- shy, intellectual, also insecure -- have been best friends since childhood in London in the 1970s. Despite increasingly divergent lifestyles, they seem unwilling to cut loose from one another. Me Without You charts what happens as Marina's growing possessiveness and manipulative behavior take their toll on Holly. An intermittently involving film, it features strong performances but no sense of time and place outside Holly and Marina's insular world -- nothing that would place their characters in the context of the world around them. And although nicely conveying the intensity of feeling that can nurture or destroy a relationship, the film fails to generate any real sympathy for either character past adolescence. Opens August 23 at the Hi-Pointe. (JO)
Never Again. Eric Schaeffer. After endless failed relationships, a middle-aged exterminator and jazz musician (Jeffrey Tambor) begins to think that maybe he's gay. On his very first attempt to pick someone up at a gay bar, however, he meets a beautiful divorcée (Jill Clayburgh), whose recent love life has been equally unsatisfying. The two leap into a passionate sexual affair, swearing that they won't fall in love, but of course they do, and then the usual problems start. This is a change of pace for writer/director Eric Schaeffer. For the first time, he doesn't appear in one of his films, which helps. The result is pleasant, diverting and modest. The story is not exactly original, but Schaeffer and his cast manage to make it tolerable. Schaeffer seems to run out of steam toward the end, resorting to two sudden tragedies to give the plot its final push. It's not terribly surprising that Never Again, which played at the SXSW Film Festival more than a year ago, is only now making it into theaters. Opens August 23 at the Screening Room at the Ritz-Carlton. (AK)
Serving Sara. Reginald Hudlin. East St. Louis's own Reginald Hudlin directs this romantic comedy featuring Matthew Perry and Elizabeth Hurley (and also co-stars this city's comedic superstar Cedric the Entertainer). He's a process server assigned to track down the toughest cases, and when he's hired to serve the wealthy Sara (Hurley) with papers that threaten to cut off her money supply, tension arrives -- that is, sexual tension. Opens August 23 at multiple locations. NR
Simone. Andrew Niccol. Opens August 23 at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.
Undisputed. Walter Hill. Ving Rhames and Wesley Snipes star in this boxing tome. Two boxers -- one a pro who's in the clink for rape, the other the King Boxer of the Big House -- kick the shit out of each other and other inmates at a maximum-security prison. Peter Falk also stars. Opens August 23 at multiple locations. NR