It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
Tom DiCillo's "The Real Blonde" is a meandering movie that usually meanders in entertaining directions. It has too many characters and not much of a plot, but that didn't bother me while I was watching it. It's a sketchbook in which the director observes certain types he seems familiar with. A lot of them are actors and models, who are understandably confused because they don't know if they're being paid to be someone else, or just because of who they are.
The central couple are Joe (Matthew Modine) and Mary (Catherine Keener), who have been together so long, they feel they should either break up or get married. Not that it isn't working the way it is, but they feel embarrassed, somehow, by not having chosen one path or the other. Joe is an actor with such high standards that he never works. Mary is a makeup artist in the fashion industry, skilled at calming restless models before they go in front of the camera.
The movie proceeds as a sort of tag game, as each new character introduces other ones. Through Mary we meet a famous photographer (Marlo Thomas) and an insecure model named Sahara (Bridgette Wilson). Through Joe we meet the punctilious caterer (Christopher Lloyd) he works for, and Joe's best friend, Bob (Maxwell Caulfield), a soap opera actor obsessed with dating a real blond. And then through Bob we meet a real blond named Kelly (Daryl Hannah) and, full circle, Bob also meets Sahara.
Meanwhile, Mary's therapist (Buck Henry) leads her to discover a self-defense instructor (Denis Leary), while Joe's agent (Kathleen Turner) gets him a job in a Madonna video directed by Steve Buscemi, where he meets Madonna's body double (Elizabeth Berkley) and almost has an affair with her, while Mary is almost having an affair with the karate teacher.