A dozen eccentric characters parade their frail egos, need for love, and other psychological problems in Canadian filmmaker Anne Wheeler's "Marine Life," a serio-comedy toplined by Cybill Shepherd, who here gets a chance to display her acting and singing skills. A sporadically engaging meditation on the nature of post-modern family life, with all its chaos and joy, this two-generational meller is only one notch above a TV sitcom, though its production values, particularly lensing, are smooth and impressive. Modest cable and TV possibilities loom.

A dozen eccentric characters parade their frail egos, need for love, and other psychological problems in Canadian filmmaker Anne Wheeler’s “Marine Life,” a serio-comedy toplined by Cybill Shepherd, who here gets a chance to display her acting and singing skills. A sporadically engaging meditation on the nature of post-modern family life, with all its chaos and joy, this two-generational meller is only one notch above a TV sitcom, though its production values, particularly lensing, are smooth and impressive. Modest cable and TV possibilities loom.

A middle-aged lounge singer, June (Shepherd) is a twice-divorced mother trying to hold on to her small-time career, declining beauty, troubled children from various marriages, and her latest affair, with Robert (Peter Outerbridge), a handsome, slightly confused, much younger lover. “Marine Life’s” dramatic highlight is Robert’s illicit affair with a younger, sexier woman, and the way to escape from the mundane life is to make frequent trips to the car wash. As the adolescent daughter whose growing pains serve as film’s emotional center, Alexandra Purvis gives a credible performance that almost holds together the digressively episodic movie.

Marine Life

Production

An Odeon Films/Alliance Atlantis production. (International sales: Alliance Atlantis Pictures International, Santa Monica.) Produced by Jeanne Stromberg, Arvi Liimatainen. Executive producers, Harold Tichenor, John Delmage. Directed by Anne Wheeler. Screenplay, Lori Lansens, Rob Forsyth, based on the book by Linda Svendsen.

Crew

Camera (color), David Pelletier; editor, Alison Grace; music, George Blondheim; production designer, Marti Wright. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Perspectives Canada), Sept. 15, 2000. (Also in Vancouver Film Festival.) Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Cybill Shepherd, Peter Outerbridge, Alexandra Purvis, Gabrielle Miller, Michael Hogan.
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