It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
The movie is the latest from Ed Burns, who won the Sundance Film Festival in 1995 with his rich and moving "The Brothers McMullen," but has since made two thin and unconvincing films: "She's the One" (1996) and now this one, in which self-absorbed characters fret over their lives. I have no beef against that subject matter; I simply wish the characters and their fretting were more interesting, or their unhappiness less avoidable.
The film is set in the bleak, wintry landscape of Rockaway Beach, N.Y., where Claudia (Lauren Holly) works in a diner and lives with Michael (Jon Bon Jovi), a mechanic. They are engaged, in a sense, but have no plans for marriage; Michael wants to marry her, but she's "afraid to wake up 10 years from now" still working in the diner.
As the film opens, Charlie (Edward Burns) returns to town on the bus after a three-year absence. He was once Claudia's lover, but ditched her without a farewell. Now he apparently hopes to pick up where they left off. He moves into his mother's house; she has his number and tells him to get a job. And then Michael, who was his best friend, comes over for more beer and conversation, and explains that he and Claudia are "together" now.
Will Claudia accept the dependable Michael? Or will she be swept off her feet once again by the flashier, more charismatic Charlie? "It's different this time," he tells her. "This time I need you. I love you." He's not the soul of eloquence, but she is willing to be persuaded.