Men Don’t Leave

Paul Brickman’s first film after Risky Business stars Jessica Lange as a recently widowed mother of two children (Chris O’Donnell and Charlie Korsmo) who has to raise her kids single-handedly, moving to Baltimore from a small town after selling their house to pay off debts, and encountering a number of emotional, familial, and economic difficulties as she struggles to keep her family whole and happy. Brickman’s handling of actors is sensitive and sure and his lyrical talents as a filmmaker continue to impress, but one wishes he’d come up with a more interesting script than Barbara Benedek’s loose adaptation of Moishe Mizrahi’s La vie continue. A sweet-tempered musician (Arliss Howard) who comes along to set the family right again seems a little too good to be true, and the picture seems to forget about most of the problems that it sets up rather than attempt to resolve them. The results are both appealing and supremely watchable, thanks to first-rate performances and inventive mise en scene, but not entirely satisfying. With Joan Cusack, Kathy Bates, and Tom Mason (1990). (JR)

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