Tuesday, April 16, 2013


Hisako Matsui's "Leonie" stars Emily Mortimer as Leonie Gilmour, a Bryn Mawrtyr who arrived in turn-of-the-century New York to answer a classified ad for an editing position placed by the Japanese poet Yone Noguchi. Over time, she became his editor, his lover, and the mother of his son, the noted artist Isamu Noguchi. Pretty, slow-moving, Japanese - this was the Sally Aminoff jackpot! I had to invite her. (It could only have been more up her wheelhouse if set in China.)

Rotten Tomatoes lists an incorrect running time for "Leonie" of 132 minutes. It's actually little over an hour and a half, though I can understand the error. Leonie's adventures take her to Pasadena, Yokohama, Maine, and places in between, yet not much happens to her. Mortimer is not the most appealing actress - she looks a bit like Laura Linney here - and as she ages, Matsui puts some pretty bad makeup on her. Her feminism zigzags from meek and apologetic to strident and off-putting. Her conversations with both native English speakers and those for whom it's a second (or third) language are equally stilted. The character of the son, Isamu, remains largely a blank slate.

So why the recommendation? Simply because it's maybe the prettiest movie I've seen all year. You could compile a coffee table book of the images in "Leonie," and I'd want that book on my coffee table. Every shade of green known to man. A final farewell in an arched atrium awash in white blossoms. The rich cherry reds and bamboo browns of the woods. And you just want to move into a couple of the houses.

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