Writer-director Nicole Holofcener's debut feature "Walking and Talking" was a bittersweet New York comedy, which led to her being described by some critics as a female Woody Allen (when he was funny, that is).
Five years later and her follow-up, the ironically titled "Lovely & Amazing", finds Holofcener working in an affluent LA milieu. Yet the focus is again on women struggling to manage their physical and psychological insecurities, with the film's humour underpinned by a sense of emotional pain.
What connects the various members of the Marks family in "Lovely & Amazing" is their narcissistic self-absorption.
Middle-aged mother Jane (Blethyn) has decided to have an expensive liposuction operation, to restore both her figure and sense of well-being.
Eldest daughter Michelle (Keener) was the home-coming prom queen at high school: now she's trapped in a loveless marriage, and dismally failing in her attempts to sell her home-made miniature chairs to craft shops.
Michelle's younger sister, Elizabeth (Mortimer), is an aspiring movie actress, whose anxieties over her sexual attractiveness are magnified after failing an audition with a hotshot star (Mulroney).
And their eight-year-old adopted sibling, Annie (Goodwin), is developing her own behavioural problems...
Smoothly shot on high-definition video, "Lovely & Amazing" has a loosely-structured feel, in which plot is of secondary importance to character (possibly only the figure of Annie feels significantly underwritten).
The ever-impressive Keener contributes a typically incisive, dynamic performance, suggesting beneath Michelle's acerbic, aggressively headstrong façade an individual weighed down by a sense of her own unfulfilled potential.
Meanwhile Mortimer shows real fearlessness in a scene where she stands completely naked, and demands that her lover candidly assess each part of her body.
Sustaining a mood of amused ruefulness, Holofcener has crafted a comedy which acknowledges not just our neuroses about our bodies, but also the messy, ambivalent complexities of adult family relationships.