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Return to 2006 Films

Index of 2006

An Inconvenient Truth
Big Bad Swim
Brokeback Mountain
Cinderella Man
The Departed
The DaVinci Code
Eron: The Smartest
Guys in the Room

Good Night and
Good Luck

Half Nelson
History of Violence
Hotel Rwanda
Little Miss Sunshine
Journey from the Fall
March of the Penguins
Million Dollar Baby
Prairie Home Companion
Star Wars III:
Revenge of the Sith

Thank You for Smoking
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada
The Sea Inside
United 93
War of the Worlds
Walk the Line
World Trade Center

Flannel Pajamas
A Review by Tom Condon, OP
(St. Martin Province)

When I heard the title of this new independent film, I was expecting a romantic comedy. Perhaps I was in store for a new version of a Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie. Boy, was I off base! Even though it has some humor, Flannel Pajamas is a very serious film about the relationship between two people, Stuart and Nicole from courtship to living together, through two years of married life. It’s a tough movie, highly intense. When it was over, I wasn’t sure how to react. Flannel Pajamas is definitely not a “feel good” movie. But it does get under your skin, and I’ve been thinking about it for days.

The film begins with the first meeting of Nicole, a Catholic from Montana, and Stuart, a Jewish New Yorker, in a New York diner. Nicole has trouble keeping a job. Stuart is a very successful marketer of Broadway shows. They hit it off well, and soon enter into a romantic relationship. When Nicole loses her current job, Stuart offers to assume her college debt. Then Stuart rents an apartment in a high rise building with a spectacular view, and the couple moves in together.

Pajamas follows the couple through their first Christmas together, spent with Nicole’s dysfunctional family in Montana, and then onto their marriage. Soon the honeymoon ends and they fight about starting a family, getting a dog, Nicole starting a business, and many other issues.

While the focus in clearly on Stuart and Nicole, the film does a nice job of including their families and friends. One of the points of Pajamas is that these significant others remain a part of one’s life during the courtship and through the marriage. Nicole’s parents and siblings have many divorces among them. Her best friend, Jordan, carries on multiple relationships at once. Stuart’s parents divorced as well. His mother moved to Florida and has since died. Stuart’s brother, Tom, suffers from psychological illness. When Nicole and Stuart marry, they find themselves involved in all these other relationships, for better and for worse. In addition, the difference in religion and customs comes into play as well. It’s nice to see the attention to religion. While it’s not a major part of the story, it enters in to the lives of Nicole and Stuart. This couple is a good illustration that living together before marriage does not necessarily bode well for a successful marriage.

There is always so much going on in each scene of the film that it demands a second viewing. Writer-director Jeff Lipsky based some of the film on his own first marriage. He deserves a great deal of credit for not underestimating the intelligence of his audience. The characters are as complex as real human beings. They never resort to stereotypes. Flannel Pajamas demands the attention of the audience; it’s not a film one can watch while carrying on a conversation or walking back and forth to the concession stand.

There are many memorable scenes in the film. One is Tom’s toast at Stuart and Nicole’s wedding. Stuart is anxious when his unpredictable brother rises. The authentic beauty of Tom’s emotional toast is a lovely, unexpected moment. Later there’s a magnificent scene in a hospital cafeteria between Stuart and his mother-in-law Elizabeth. Elizabeth, who is battling Alzheimer’s, frankly, yet matter-of-factly, gives her impressions of Stuart, his marriage to Nicole, and other family details. It’s a remarkable moment, catching Stuart, and us, totally off guard. Actress Rebecca Schull, best known for her role in the long-running TV comedy Wings, deserves an Oscar nomination for this scene.

Flannel Pajamas is a difficult, although ultimately rewarding, film. The emotional tone gets progressively darker as the film progresses. The sex scenes, between Nicole and Stuart are intense. Julianne Nicholson and Justin Kirk head a fine cast.

Flannel Pajamas is scheduled for a limited release in November. If you’re interested in an intelligent, unflinching film about the complexities of marriage and human relationships, see Flannel Pajamas. If you’re looking for a romantic comedy, I suggest you look for a Doris Day movie at your local video store.

Tom Condon, OP

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