John Sayles again uses a keen intelligence and finely tuned ear to tackle the nature of friendship and loving in Lianna.
Story of a 33-year-old woman (Linda Griffiths), saddled with an arrogant and unsupportive professor-husband (John DeVries) who constricts her life until she finds herself falling in love, for the first time, with a woman teacher (Jane Hallaren).
Particularly well-drawn are her husband’s doubly-hurt sense of sexual betrayal, the half-formed understandings of her children, who’ve only just become aware of conventional sexual realities, and the ambivalence of once-close women friends.
Paced by Griffiths’ excellent pivotal performance, the film is marked by fine acting overall, particularly Hallaren as the catalytic lover scared off by the intensity of Griffiths’ feelings; DeVries as the acerbic, insecure academic mate; Jo Henderson as the retroactively frightened best girlfriend; and Jesse Solomon as the wise-beyond-years pubescent son. Sayles himself appears to good effect as a supportive friend.