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TIFF Review: Lovely Still

Like peanut butter and jam, Christmas and movies seem to go hand in hand, the magic of the holiday season complimented by the magic of film. Lovely Still embraces the magic of both mediums right from its 3 minute long opening scene, and I was flooded with all the warmth and love of gooey Christmas memories past.

Robert Malone (Martin Landau) is an elderly bachelor who has admittedly, spent too many Christmas’s alone. This Christmas, he wants nothing more than a family to spend the holiday with. One night, like a Christmas present sent from Heaven, Robert arrives home to find a beautiful woman named Mary (Ellen Burstyn) in his kitchen. Alone one moment and completely in love the next, Robert is swept off his feet by Mary, the two become inseparable almost immediately. Robert goes through all of the angst and emotion of a teen deciding where to take Mary on a date, or what to get her for Christmas. He even enlists the help of his grocery store manager Mike (Adam Scott), because he wants to give Mary the perfect experience and the perfect present. But after a few days, and even though Robert is madly in love with her, he starts to question Mary’s motives. There’s something about Mary, and Robert must decipher what it is before it’s too late.

Even though it’s a warm and fuzzy Christmas tale on the surface, Lovely, Still has a stout heart that refuses to yield its tale to the season. Landau and Burstyn are as dazzling as ever, but most of the credit must go to first time writer/director Nicholas Fackler for his incredibly mature script and steady direction (especially for a 23 year-old!). Both heartwarming and heartbreaking, Lovely, Still is instantly one of those magical holiday memories you won’t soon forget.