Neil LaBute is originally a playwright, and his newest film Some Velvet Morning can certainly pass as a staged play, because it’s set up in a way that screams theater, yet is somehow more intriguing in movie format because the camera chooses not to show you everything, which is vital for this screenplay. LaBute is especially known for his twist endings, and this film doesn’t escape this at all.

After four years apart, Fred (Stanley Tucci) comes knocking on his former mistress’s door with all his belongings stuffed into suitcases, claiming that he has finally left his wife. Velvet (Alice Eve) claims she is happy to see him, but is surprised that he’s come back after so long fully intending to pick up where they left off; and by the looks of his suitcases, move in.

The film is set in a New York home, and once Fred arrives at the doorstep and closes the door, the audience is trapped in the house and bound to watch the events unfold. Fred and Velvet try to work through some of the issues which plagued their relationship the first time around.

The fact that Velvet prepares to go on a lunch date with Fred’s son Chris further complicates matters. As the story unfolds, we find out how verbally abusive and controlling their relationship really is, Fred seeming to hold all the cards in his hand and Velvet adhering to his words even as she pushes back verbally and emotionally.

Stanley Tucci is a man of many talents, an actor who diversifies his roles and is practically everywhere. This film shows off a great performance from him. Tucci’s character seems cool and collected, but simmers with physical rage underneath a verbally abusive demeanor. One second, you think you could give this guy a chance, the next he’s an asshole. Tucci plays the kind of guy who can explode at any moment, never knowing what might set him off.

Alice Eve plays Velvet with an undercurrent of fear towards Tucci’s Fred, but she’s also boiling with repressed anger, though much quieter and reserved. And when she bursts out with her explanation about why she broke it off with Fred, you begin to see through what she does and their almost uncomfortable and verbally controlling and manipulative relationship. Eve isn’t as well known as Tucci yet, her biggest role to date being in Star Trek Into Darkness, but she proves here that she can help carry a movie and do it with grace.

LaBute is a master at bringing us one story and then turning it around and pulling the rug out from under us. Anything said further about the matter would qualify as a spoiler and ruin the layout of the entire film. The movie is set up like a play, but uses certain camera angles and shots to its advantage. At first, it’s not clear where the film is going. The conversations between the characters build on each other and become more layered and interesting as the film goes on.

Some Velvet Morning is the type of film you’ll see and immediately want to discuss afterwards. It throws out several implications about the two characters that will have your head spinning by the end. Everything that is said and done is called into question by the time the credits roll and you may be trying to process it all days later. The script is smart and controlled as the setting never changes and the focus is only on the two characters and their tumultuous relationship. LaBute brings us a film that plays head games with the audience with every word spoken. Highly intriguing and verbally thrilling.

3.5star

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About Author

Mae is a Washington, DC-based film critic, entertainment journalist and Weekend Editor at Heroic Hollywood. A member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association (WAFCA), she's a geek who loves discussing movies and TV. She is also a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. If she's not at the movies, she's catching up on her superhero TV-watching, usually with a glass of wine in hand.

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