"The Depths of Insecurity"
Although offering clever dialogue and funny moments, Noah Baumbach’s MR. JEALOUSY doesn’t quite deliver a satisfying plot in exploration of jealousy and the lengths to which a jealous person will go beyond the moral and the ethical.
Lester (Eric Stoltz), a substitute teacher and struggling writer, meets Ramona (Annabella Sciorra), a tour guide for the Brooklyn Art Museum and a Ph.D. student in Abstract Expressionism. They are introduced by mutual friends, Vince (Carlos Jacott) and Lucretia (Marianne Jean-Baptist), an engaged couple. Lester discovers that Ramona has a rather extensive history of sexual relationships, which causes him to feel insecure and drives him to want to know more about these relationships. Lester is especially intrigued by Ramona’s ex-boyfriend Dashiell Frank (Chris Eigeman), who is the author of a novel Ramona keeps on her coffee table. Dashiell is widely acclaimed as “the voice of his generation.”
Recognizing Dashiell in Manhattan one day from his book cover, Lester secretly follows him to discover that Dashiell attends group therapy twice a week run by Dr. Poke (Peter Bogdanovich). Giving in to his compulsiveness, Lester joins the group and uses the identity of his friend, Vince, as a way of protecting himself. He tells Ramona that he has joined group therapy, but doesn’t tell her the real reason, pretending it is for his own benefit.
What follows is a series of comical events that spiral out of control as a result of Lester’s initial deception. Vince becomes involved in the tangle, and, in an effort to unravel the mess, they make it worse by creating one lie on top of the other.
MR. JEALOUSY contains too many complexities in its storyline, but lacks the clarity to maintain a cohesive plot development. Although comical at times because of its smart dialogue and good performances, especially by Eric Stoltz (Lester) and Chris Eigeman (Dashiell), this movie doesn’t adequately bring all its plots and subplots to resolution.
MR. JEALOUSY does, however, demonstrate the jealousy and sexual frustration found commonly in the 90s. The frustration results from sexual promiscuity. The foundation of sexual trust is difficult to build under these circumstances, and although the movie doesn’t try to explore this aspect, it is evident by watching the story unfold.
Lester is more preoccupied with Ramona’s past relationships as opposed to strong feelings of jealousy. Considering the title, one would expect more comical moments revolving around Lester’s jealousy instead of a weak stab at the circumstantial issues. Jealousy is a very consuming and debilitating sin. Love is not envious of another. This movie shows the product of unchecked jealousy, perhaps comical, but never beneficial or helpful.
(Pa, Ro, LL, V, SS, M) Pagan worldview with romantic elements; 10 obscenities; characters fist fight; brief scene of fornication & some sexual talk; and, rampant insecurity, deception, lying, & jealousy.