Last Summer in the Hamptons

1995, NR, 105 min. Directed by Henry Jaglom. Starring Victoria Foyt, Viveca Lindfors, Jon Robin Baitz, Savannah Bouchér, Roscoe Lee Browne, André Gregory, Nick Gregory, Melissa Leo, Martha Plimpton, Ron Rifkin, Diane Salinger, Brooke Smith, Kristoffer Tabori, Holland Taylor, Roddy McDowall.

REVIEWED By Alison Macor, Fri., March 29, 1996

To appreciate a Henry Jaglom film (Baby Fever, Eating) one must be prepared for a different kind of filmmaking: a style that includes lots of dialogue, extended takes, hand-held camera shots, and incredibly neurotic, annoying, often funny characters. Such elements are quite evident in Jaglom's latest feature, Last Summer in the Hamptons. Set at the Mora family compound in East Hampton during the last weekend of the last summer before the estate is sold, Last Summer in the Hamptons dramatizes the events that occur when Hollywood actress Oona Hart (Foyt, who also co-wrote the film with husband Jaglom) visits matriarch and well-known actress Helena Mora (played by the late, great Viveca Lindfors) and her family, all of whom are involved in the theatre. To call the Moras a dysfunctional family is to do a disservice to the term; alcoholism, manic-depression, sexual confusion, and incest are a few of the issues that hound Helena's clan. Add to these problems the blockbuster-sized egos of the familial actors, directors, and writers, and the film becomes a portrait that's often funny and occasionally moving in its depiction of the blood ties that bind. As Helena, Lindfors is in her element. An accomplished film and stage actress, Lindfors gets the rare chance to showcase her wise eccentric side (the side she plays best) in a lead role. Foyt combines self-absorption and a slice of vulnerability in Oona, whose penchant for channeling animals according to each difficult situation she faces provides the film's more humorous moments. Jaglom gathers a number of other talented actors to play family members; notable among these are Martha Plimpton as the rebellious granddaughter Chloe and noted playwright Jon Robin Baitz as her cousin Jake, a famous young playwright. Structuring a film around an ensemble cast can undo the most accomplished director, but Jaglom maintains interest and a certain fluidity as he moves among the celebrations and crises. Jaglom's work is an acquired taste for some filmgoers, no matter how well-acted or -directed his films are. In the past Jaglom's films have disintegrated into whiny, self-serving monologues or featured characters who were offensively one-dimensional (many of the women in Eating, for instance). But this film avoids most of these problems, and for those fans of his work, Last Summer in the Hamptons promises to deliver quintessential Jaglom (complete with a brief comical appearance by the director as a boorish Hollywood filmmaker) and then some.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Last Summer in the Hamptons, Henry Jaglom, Victoria Foyt, Viveca Lindfors, Jon Robin Baitz, Savannah Bouchér, Roscoe Lee Browne, André Gregory, Nick Gregory, Melissa Leo, Martha Plimpton, Ron Rifkin, Diane Salinger, Brooke Smith, Kristoffer Tabori, Holland Taylor, Roddy McDowall

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