A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
He is a short, pudgy elevator operator. She is the newly dumped wife of a doctor. They meet in his elevator, in her co-op building on Fifth Avenue. They seem to have little in common, until they start talking. This is a set-up for a love story involving all the usual cliches, but “Living Out Loud” isn't a love story and is not made from standard parts. It's the film you need to see in order to understand why the ending of “As Good As It Gets” was phony.
The movie stars two of the most intensely interesting actors in the movies today, Danny DeVito and Holly Hunter. Not many actors can hold the screen against them. There's a dialogue scene where they talk about whether he should ask her out for dinner, and we're seeing a master class on the craft of acting in the movies. We don't want them to live happily ever after, because that would drain all of the interest out of their situation.
The movie has been written and directed by Richard LaGravenese, the gifted screenwriter of “A Little Princess,” “The Bridges of Madison County” and “Beloved.” He's more interested in characters and dialogue than in shaping everything into a conventional story.
He aims for the kind of bittersweet open ends that life itself so often supplies; he doesn't hammer his square pegs into round holes, as James L. Brooks did by insisting in “As Good As It Gets” that the Jack Nicholson character could, should or would ever be able to live happily with anyone else.
The movie opens with Judith (Hunter) breaking up with her husband of 15 years (Martin Donovan). He's been cheating on her--and, worse, insulting her intelligence by thinking he could get away with it. Later we meet Pat (DeVito), an elevator operator whose wife has thrown him out because of his gambling debts and a whole lot more, and whose daughter is dying. Pat's brother, a saloon keeper, offers him a job, but Pat clings to his independence. The elevator job is temporary. He has plans.