by George Wolf
Rarely has the Battle of the Sexes been more confined than in Neil LaBute‘s Some Velvet Morning.
In fact. in writer/director LaBute’s latest look at the subject, all of the drama occurs at the tastefully decorated residence of one young woman.
Velvet (Alice Eve) is surprised one morning when Fred (Stanley Tucci) appears at her door, with several pieces of luggage in tow. After four years, Fred has finally left his wife, he says, and he wants to again explore the chance of a life with Velvet.
Over the next 83 minutes, we learn about all the dark corners of their relationship. History is relived and ugly acusations are unfurled as Fred and Velvet take turns wielding the power in their exchanges.
That Tucci is wonderful should comes as no surprise, but it is Eve’s performance that should open some eyes to the depth of her dramatic talent. Velvet is a young woman with secrets, and Eve strings us along deliciously in the emotional dance with her old flame.
At its core, the film is a return to LaBute’s early roots as a playwright, as his favorite theme of the dark, cynical nature of relationships is explored using just two characters, but from rotating perspectives that constantly surprise.
As the meeting escalates toward the ending you think you know, LaBute throws the ace he’s been holding back since Fred rang the doorbell, but it doesn’t result in quite the jackpot he may have been seeking.
Often absorbing and sporting two fine performances, the final reveal in Some Velvet Morning ultimately leaves you wondering if LaBute’s destination was worth the journey.