Unhook the Stars

Gena Rowlands, the widow of maverick filmmaker John Cassavetes (he died in 1989), is a sublime, one-of-a-kind actress who deserves to have movies created just for her, as her husband did with brilliant results in A Woman Under the Influence and Gloria. It is especially satisfying that this sweetly funny and touching film about a widow trying to build a new life for herself is directed and co-written by Nick Cassavetes, Rowlands' son.

Mildred is a suburban widow who tries hard to please her rebellious teenage daughter (Moira Kelly) and her controlling, married son (David Sherrill). Monica (a brassy Marisa Tomei), the young mother next door, hooks up Mildred with Big Tommy (Gerard Depardieu), a Canadian trucker who stirs long-dormant feelings. As Mildred heads for the future, Cassavetes lets the camera watch her stride off as Rowlands expresses the fear and exhilaration of a woman who has lost her bearings but not her courage. That's more than acting, partner; that's class.