‘Ray Meets Helen’: Film Review

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Keith Carradine and Sondra Locke take a quick vacation from dreary lives in Alan Rudolph’s newest.

Sudden windfalls allow two old-timers to flirt with rebooting their gone-stale lives in Ray Meets Helen, the primary Alan Rudolph movie since 2002’s The Secret Lives of Dentists. Pairing longtime Rudolph collaborator Keith Carradine with Sondra Locke (who’s been absent from the display screen even longer than her director), the odd, elegiac pic has issues in widespread with Rudolph’s earlier movies however feels just like the awkward cousin at a reunion. A tiny, unpublicized arthouse launch could also be stunning for such a longtime auteur, however on this case, it is acceptable.

Carradine performs Ray, a onetime boxer who by no means made it, who now does the occasional odd job for insurance coverage investigator Harvey (Keith David). On one such job — investigating an armored-car mishap that left hundreds of thousands of {dollars} blowing within the breeze — the ailing palooka spies a younger child sneaking round with a suspicious backpack. He later realizes the boy (who’s clearly residing alone as a squatter, one thing Ray does not catch) has an enormous stash of neatly bundled payments amongst his playthings. Younger Andre (Joshua Johnson-Lionel) is weirdly blasé in regards to the cash, passive in a method we’ll have to elucidate for ourselves, permitting Ray to stroll off with wads of dough and half-baked plans to reinvent himself.

Locke is Helen, a loner from farm nation who stumbles throughout a girl who has simply killed herself. Mary (Samantha Mathis) was form sufficient to go away a notice, an impromptu will leaving the contents of her purse (together with keys to her LA house) to no matter form soul ought to first encounter her corpse. Weirdly, Helen takes her up on the provide, leaving the physique for another person to fret about and buying and selling her personal mannish wardrobe for Mary’s posh togs.

Each protagonists share their houses with ghosts of their youthful selves, reminders of the chances life as soon as appeared to carry; now, Helen begins seeing Mary as effectively. She materializes and disappears matter-of-factly, providing little greater than a watchful eye and a few obvious remorse about an affair that ended badly.

Mary’s ex-lover retains video-calling the house and leaving determined messages, a tiresome subplot that’s sore-thumby amid all this melancholy. Becoming barely higher are encounters with Ray’s personal ex (Jennifer Tilly’s Ginger), a washed-up boozer who left him for Harvey and is now being dumped in return.

Ray is jealously spying on Ginger when he crosses paths with Helen at a snooty French restaurant known as Les Visiteurs. (The pinched-nose maitre d’, performed by Lenny von Dohlen, wears an anachronistic upswoop of hair only a bit much less outre than the one Carradine sported in 1985’s Bother in Thoughts.) Feeling suave in his new-money dinner put on (shirt, bow tie, and scarf all in contrasting polka-dots), Ray invitations himself to Helen’s desk, buys a bottle of “the great things,” and crudely tries to brush her off her toes.

At the very least at first, the elliptical dialog between the 2 performs like an extension of the monologue Ray began again at Andre’s home, the place he talked to himself in a mirror, oblivious to the child within the room. Right here, Ray oozes recent confidence (“earlier than I am achieved” with life, he brags to Helen, “I am gettin’ to the candy spot”) and Helen principally repeats his phrases again to him as in the event that they had been a part of a city-folk ritual she’s unfamiliar with.

Their quick time on the restaurant turns into a correct walk-and-talk date, taking the pair into a store filled with previous neon indicators, to an unconvincing back-alley gathering of meals vehicles, and to a piano bar the place Ray and Helen plunk out a soggy rendition of “Stunning Dreamer.” Rudolph provides the couple fireworks and kaleidoscope results in superimposed backgrounds, together with classic inventory footage that underscores how backward-looking these characters have been.

When daybreak breaks on this reverie, the film succumbs to 1 false notice after the opposite — contrivances each lucky and un- that more and more check our willingness to just accept what has come earlier than as merely the unusual vibes of a filmmaker accustomed to a different age. “Ray meets Helen,” all proper, however moviegoers anticipating a sprightly golden-years romance have come to the incorrect place. So have these in search of a moody however credible reflection on many years of regrets.

Manufacturing firm: Sneak Preview Leisure
Distributor: Moonstone Leisure
Forged: Keith Carradine, Sondra Locke, Keith David, Samantha Mathis, Jennifer Tilly, Joshua Johnson-Lionel
Director-Screenwriter: Alan Rudolph
Producers: Ernst Etchie Stroh, Steven J. Wolfe
Govt producers: Keith Carradine, Sondra Locke, Lesley Ann Warren
Director of pictures: Spencer Hutchins
Manufacturing designer: Michael Navarro
Costume designer: Gwendolyn Stukely
Editor: Jason Erickson
Composer: Shahar Stroh
Casting director: Pam Dixon

113 minutes

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