The 'M' Word" is "marriage" in this lightweight but likable indie comedy-drama about the interactions and introspection of friends and lovers drawn together for an upcoming Manhattan wedding. A fine ensemble cast and some sharp dialogue are the major selling points. After a few bookings in key urban markets, pic should find its biggest, most appreciative audience in ancillary venues. Sarah (Marnie Pomerantz) is happy to be spending quality time with two close friends, Nicole (Christine Tucci) and Cara (Cynthia Nixon), in the days before her marriage to longtime boyfriend Jake (Wolfgang Bodison). Trouble is, Sarah's having some serious last-minute doubts about the marriage itself. It's not that she's reluctant to enter into a racially mixed union (she's white, he's black). Rather, she's starting to question her readiness for a long-term commitment of any sort.

Sarah’s ambivalence makes her especially easy prey for Nick (Andrew Heckler), a hunky, smooth-talking sleaze who delights in seducing brides-to-be. As Nick explains to a friend, “Engaged women are the ultimate challenge.” As it turns out, Sarah isn’t much of a challenge after all.

Meanwhile, Nicole is trying to balance her professional responsibilities with her personal commitments. She fears she’s spending too much time at work and not enough with b.f. Dan (Vincent Angell) and other intimates. Cara, who long ago dated Dan, has finally come out as a lesbian. And while Nicole and Sarah accept her lover, Lisa (Pamela Gray), as a new friend, Cara has a more difficult time coping with her disapproving mother (Donna Mitchell).

There isn’t much here that’s new and exciting. But most of it is amusing, and some of it is insightful. The idea of a rogue who specializes in seducing engaged women is worthy of a pic all its own. Here, however, it’s just one of several subplots artfully juggled by director Brett Parker.

Working from a well-balanced script by Nina Colman, Parker manages to keep all the major characters in sharp focus. In this, he is helped by a first-rate ensemble cast. Standouts include Tucci as a woman who suspects she really can’t have it all, and Pomerantz as a woman who fears she hasn’t had nearly enough.

Soundtrack features some well-chosen Top 40 singles of the past three decades. Other tech values are more than adequate.

The 'M' Word

Production

A Colman Parker/Romeo Taos production. Produced by Nina Colman, Brett Parker. Executive producer, Caralyn Fuld. Directed by Brett Parker. Screenplay, Nina Colman.

Crew

Camera (Technicolor), Nancy Schreiber; editor, Plummy Tucker; music, Jon Wolfson; production design, Kirsten Coyne; art direction, Stephen Beatrice; sound (Ultra-Stereo), Dan Ferat; assistant director, Clare Martorana; casting, Peggy Adler. Reviewed on videocassette, Houston, Oct. 16, 1997. (In Hollywood Film Festival.) Running time: 99 MIN.

With

Cara .....Cynthia Nixon Nicole .....Christine Tucci Sarah ..... Marnie Pomerantz Jake ..... Wolfgang Bodison Dan .....Vincent Angell Nick .....Andrew Heckler Carol .....Joy Behar Lisa .....Pamela Gray Victoria .....Donna Mitchell Jan ..... Jennifer Harmon
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