Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
At first I didn't understand some of the behavior in the second half of "She's So Lovely,'' but then I found the explanation, which is that two of the characters are mad. They often are in films of John Cassavetes, and this is the last that will bear his credit: Cassavetes, who died in 1989, wrote the screenplay, which has been directed by his son, Nick.
The presence in a small role of Cassavetes' widow, Gena Rowlands, is a reminder of all the characters she played in her husband's movies. Most of them were also mad--deranged, alcoholic, obsessive wives, lovers or eccentric dames, driven crazy by love and need. Narrow your eyes a little, imagine Rowlands, Cassavetes and Peter Falk in the roles played here by Robin Wright Penn, Sean Penn and John Travolta, and you have the key that unlocks the film. Otherwise, you're likely to leave the theater frustrated and confused, asking yourself how any mother could make the choice the woman in this film makes.
As the story opens, the woman, named Maureen (Wright Penn) lives in a transient hotel with her lover, Eddie (Sean Penn). He has been missing for three days. She seeks him out (and also free drinks and smokes) in a skid row bar, and ends up in the room of Kiefer (James Gandolfini), a neighbor across the hall. Through a very large alcoholic misunderstanding, he assaults her, and Maureen is afraid that when Eddie finds out, he'll kill the guy.
She is nearly right. Eddie, also drunk, succeeds in accidentally shooting a member of an emergency response team, and is sent to prison.