Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{The Oranges opens in Seattle on Friday, October 5, and is screening at Sundance Cinemas Seattle}

The Oranges is one of those movies that I really WANTED to be good, because it has an incredible cast: there are strong performances from Hugh Laurie, Catherine Keener, Allison Janney, and Alia Shawkat – rounded out by some nice supporting roles from Oliver Platt, Adam Brody, and yes, even Leighton Meester. Unfortunately, there’s just not much for them to “perform”.

The character focus is all over the place, starting with some narration by Vanessa (Shawkat) Walling, who begins the movie by warning us of the evil contained within her former best friend and across-the-street neighbor, Nina Ostroff (Meester), who, since sophomore year of High School, has ignored Vanessa and over-shadowed her by succeeding at doing everything Vanessa wants to, but can't motivate herself to do. 

The Wallings (Laurie & Keener) and the Ostroffs (Janney & Platt) have always been best friends, apparently doing everything together, as you know, suburban couples with children the same age do. But when free-spirit/world-explorer Nina returns for Thanksgiving after a 5-year absence, everyone’s suburban paradise is shaken when David and Nina start having an affair.

The affair is played as both cheap comedy and a catalyst for everyone else realizing their lives are unfulfilled and need fixing. Sounds mildly familiar, yes? Yeah, there aren’t really any surprises here. And it’s a shame to waste this amount of acting talent on a script that really doesn’t require much acting.

Everything is played really low-key, like it’s all expected and nothing’s that shocking. There are a few moments where you think it might get meaty (as one would expect when an affair that’s damaging many lives at once starts up), but the film always pulls back before it gets that far. Even the individual moments of rage aren't that rage-y or unexpected. You can see everything that happens in this film coming from a mile away. 

As a whole, it’s an okay indie-feeling movie with an okay script—filled with a lot of people who are nice to look at. It just didn’t make me feel anything, which lands it in the category of something I’ll probably forget I even saw after a year passes.