In order to make a truly transcendent coming-of-age movie, you need one thing—a stellar soundtrack. Think about it. The Graduate gave us "Mrs. Robinson." The Big Chill was chock full of so much Motown goodness that they actually released a 15th anniversary edition of the soundtrack in 1998 (I can find no indication of a similar fête for the movie itself.) And 2004's Garden State was a good movie made great by a slate of sublime backing songs, most notably Frou Frou's "Let Go." You can bank on an anniversary edition of that soundtrack circa 2019.
I can't remember any of the songs from In the Land of Women.
The movie finds Carter Webb (Adam Brody) as he's getting the heave-ho from his model/actress girlfriend. It's a great scene—the pair sits in a gold vinyl booth, the camera pans between them, allowing each of their tortured faces to fill up the screen. (I couldn't help but look for Pulp Fiction's Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield among the fellow patrons in the L.A. diner.) You immediately get the message that Carter is a romantic soul (the model's emotion might just be an act). You can imagine that this isn't the first such break-up he's suffered. And it probably won't be the last.
It's a bit jarring, then, to learn that Carter is a writer of soft-core porn. Not so romantic. But the job does offer him the flexibility to run off to Michigan to tend to his ailing grandmother and nurse his broken heart.
Olympia Dukakis plays the cantankerous grandmother, Phyllis, who insists she's dying while her family insists she fine—neither side seems to have much basis for their opinion. Her performance (and odd accent) is a bit overwrought; Dukakis seemed to be taking some pleasure in seeing how ridiculous she could ...1