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Review: 'Union Square' is a compelling family drama

Mira Sorvino and a strong supporting cast bring this low-budget film to life.

July 13, 2012|By Gary Goldstein

The budget may have been low but the talent runs high — both behind and in front of the camera — in director Nancy Savoca's "Union Square," a sharp and kinetic look at the strange bonds of family. Propelled by a rangy, superbly colorful performance by Mira Sorvino, the film grabs hold of the viewer from the jump and snowballs toward a deftly moving and concise third act.

Sorvino's Lucy is a mouthy Bronx tornado who descends upon her estranged, buttoned-up sister, Jenny (Tammy Blanchard, also fine), who's living off Manhattan's Union Square with her unflappable, organic food purveyor fiancé (Mike Doyle). When, reunited after a three-year absence, Lucy tells Jenny they've "gotta forget everything that happened," we know revelations of a pockmarked past can't be far behind.

But it's how Savoca ("True Love," "Household Saints") and co-scripter Mary Tobler slowly reveal the sisters' secrets and lies that make this, at times, blackly funny film both involving and surprising, especially when it comes to the truth about their purportedly troubled — and troublesome — mother (a fleeting but effective Patti LuPone).

Although the movie, which could easily be the basis for a strong one-act play, is largely set in Jenny and Bill's tidy apartment, Savoca takes to the streets just enough to avoid any excess staginess.

Gary Goldstein

"Union Square." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 20 minutes. At Laemmle's Music Hall 3, Beverly Hills; Laemmle's Playhouse 7, Pasadena; Laemmle's Town Center 5, Encino.

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