Flannel Pajamas

How unfortunate. I had been looking forward to this film and despite my deep desire to like it, I didn't enjoy myself much at all. Flannel Pajamas tells a seemingly simple story... Stuart (Justin Kirk) and Nicole (Julianne Nicholson) meet on a blind date, they fall in love, they marry, they fight, they part ways. The movie is based on writer/director Jeff Lipsky's marriage that dissolved... and it's so obvious that it would be laughable if you didn't come to this realization and then have another hour and a half left of the movie to sit through. The NY Times titled the article on Lipsky "Scenes From a Marriage Not Entirely Unlike His Own." The allusion to Bergman probably thrilled Lipsky as Bergman is his obvious idol... while I don't like Bergman, I feel as though Bergman offers truths that are deeper more interesting than this. The whole movie is incredibly skewed in Stuart's favor. He does everything he is ever asked to do and then some. A lot of the big gestures he makes have to do with money and before you say "Aha! Well, clearly he uses money to make things better," that is true to a certain extent but it isn't the whole problem. (Though that being said, I think his approach to money is fairly valid. You can always make more money, the only thing that you can't get more of is time. He likes to be with the people he loves and he likes to do things for them.) He pays off Nicole's student loans, he gets them an apartment together when she is embarrassed about her own, he gives her the money to start a catering company. He's incredibly loyal; he's excellent at his job. He has faults, though this Manhattanite doesn't see them as being equal to her gaping flaws. He is incredibly self-assured (obviously cloaking insecurity) and money is something he has. He tries to make some things simpler than they are (to apologize or say it will be okay is his instinctive reaction), but the more one learns about Nicole, the more one realizes that she's pretty screwed up and that isn't really fixable in the ways he thinks it might be. Supposedly he doesn't listen enough to people or ask questions about their lives... you're given some sense of this as it's implied by his job (he creates fake backstories and buzz for actors and Broadway shows), but mostly he is told this by Nicole. (Nicole who, incidentally, doesn't really listen to the tone behind Stuart's words or chooses not to as it suits her.) His main fault, that he recognizes, is that he's jealous about Nicole with regards to her family. She comes from a large family in Montana with a large amount of problems. Alcoholism, abuse, Alzheimer's, prejudice, promiscuity, and so on. Nicole adores her family, she's always on the phone with them, she tells them things before she tells Stuart and she listens to their advice on everything. He insists that he wants to protect her, but part of that means that he wants to protect her from her family, who she would never see as bad in any way.
If you can't see this train wreck waiting to happen, then I don't know how to help you. You can't suggest that religion drives them apart, but the way they approach life is a definite product of how they were raised. The whole film a good lesson in what passive aggressive behavior can lead to in a relationship, but it's also hard to garner anything that I consider worthwhile from it because Nicole is painted in such a poor light. She doesn't seem terribly interesting, though her interest in learning about others is lovely. She wants children right away and refuses to go on the pill, even after agreeing with Stuart that they will wait two years. She doesn't seem to understand Stuart's genuine concerns about having a steady income and providing for a child. She's incredibly moody and critical. Her Christianity rises up towards the end of the movie as she prays aloud; in a conversation with her sister above God and their abusive father, Nicole says that God took care of them when their mother couldn't. Her sister corrects Nicole: when their mother didn't.

You get my point. The performances were good, it's simply the story's off-kilter perspective that I dislike. You're automatically put on Stuart's side and the ultimate taste left in your mouth is that you can do everything right and it isn't enough... poor you. The problem is that Stuart isn't equally matched. He's chosen to protect someone that isn't making him her worth the way he focuses on her. If Nicole was someone that had more audience sympathy, then this movie would have something going for it about the difficulties of relationships... this is simply self indulgent.

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