Nancy Savoca came on strong with her feature debut in 1989 called TRUE LOVE. I was an instant fan. While I thought her followup DOGFIGHT was an admirable failure, she's really struggled ever since to get projects going. Trust me, I feel her pain. With UNION SQUARE, she's cobbled together $100,000, an Oscar winner, an Emmy winner, and a 12-day schedule to see what happens.
With UNION SQUARE, she's gotten so much of it right that it pains me to be so lukewarm about it as a whole. Let's start with the good. When you want to attract great talent like Sorvino, your script better have juicy, playable moments for an actor. Savoca, here with co-write Mary Tobler, deliver that completely. Sorvino plays a desperate woman who barges in on her estranged sister and pretty much takes over her life. Dumped by her married boyfriend, Sorvino's character has a hair-trigger temper, a need for attention, and a palpable sense of grief. The character may be annoying, but Sorvino is at the top of her game here.
Same goes for Tammy Blanchard, so wonderful as the young Judy Garland in LIFE WITH JUDY GARLAND. Playing the rigid sister, she reveals hidden layers, and to watch them come off is truly a joy to behold. There is an abundance of truth in this film, difficult to watch, yet jaw-dropping in its accuracy.
Unfortunately, I couldn't help notice that what we have here is essentially a filmed play. It's mostly 2-4 characters sitting around a room talking, and talking, and talking. Last year's CARNAGE was the same, to even worse results. At least UNION SQUARE didn't start out as a play, or else I'd chalk it up to an adaptation that was never properly opened up. Instead, we have an ultra-low-budget film which was most likely conceived as such. Savoca probably said, "I have an apartment, and some great actor friends, so let's put on a show!" Nothing wrong with that - in fact, it's admirable. It's just not terribly exciting filmmaking. But, if you wanna see a Tony-worthy play at movie ticket prices, then UNION SQUARE is your man!