Tuesday, October 25, 2011

HBO: Enlightened

In Enlightened, Mike White and Laura Dern have got the question down: how can one live well in the 21st century while also making a difference in the world? Is it possible for someone like Amy Jellicoe, Dern's character, to get it together after having been demoted by yet still working for the same large corporation that demoted her with a former assistant (Sarah Burns) who was promoted into her old position, while also living with her mother (Diane Ladd, Dern's real mother) and still enmeshed with her ex-husband (Luke Wilson) and, on top of that, significantly in debt?

One strand of Amy's story reminds me of Carol Milford's plight in the Sinclair Lewis novel Main Street (1920): “She did not yet know the immense ability of the world to be casually cruel and proudly dull . . .” She also, as with Carol Milford, seems to overestimate her abilities to deliver positive change.  

As with Sinclair Lewis, the White-Dern team has a sharp eye for social detail. Enlightened is intricate, satirical and empathetic about the way things are, and could be, and aren't. The main question is: how will Amy's journey proceed, and will she find what she thinks she's looking for within her shifting social milieu? How will others change in her wake?

Mike White's many credits include his writing for Freaks and Geeks and The Good Girl (he also appeared in both). Laura Dern (her father is Bruce Dern) has done just about everything and is particularly renouned for her work with David Lynch (Blue Velvet, Inland Empire, etc.). I'm digging their work with Enlightened, too.

Today's Rune: Partnership.  


Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds almost too realistic to me. I can imagine myself being made very uncomfortable by this. Maybe I should be.

Adorably Dead said...

My good lord Amy's got some problems...and I totally feel for her, lol.

Erik Donald France said...

Cheers~~! Yes, very real stuff, quite cringe-worthy at times.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Anxious to see this when it comes out on DVD. Big Laura Dern fan.