‘Some Velvet Morning’ is so-so Neil LaBute but great for Alice Eve

Alice Eve and Stanley Tucci are the only stars of Neil LaBute's "Some Velvet Morning." Credit: Rogier Stoffers
Alice Eve and Stanley Tucci are the only stars of Neil LaBute’s “Some Velvet Morning.”
Credit: Rogier Stoffers

‘Some Velvet Morning’
Director: Neil LaBute
Stars: Alice Eve, Stanley Tucci
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

Once upon a time, Neil LaBute was a major cultural force — a badboy playwright whose shocking, Mamet knockoffs led to shocking, Mamet-knockoff films, like “In the Company of Men” and “Your Friends and Neighbors.” How he came to direct, negligibly, titles like “Possession” and the much-mocked remake of “The Wicker Man” is of interest only to his fans.

For the record, he’s been trying to get back into his old groove, only with less of his once patented toxic cynicism. “Some Velvet Morning” is not adapted from one of his plays, as was “The Shape of Things,” but it feels like it. Alice Eve plays a woman of mysterious vocation who spends part of a late weekday morning chatting with a surprise visitor: a former lover (Stanley Tucci) who shows up with packed bags. The precise details of their relationship are parceled out slowly, and it’s impossible to discuss the film without revealing its surprise twist, which aims for O. Henry and hits a hair above M. Night Shyamalan.

But what’s interesting is watching (or hearing, really) LaBute trying to (mostly) avoid his earlier, pessimistic self while trying to struggling, sometimes painfully, something new, maybe even periodically tender. The two go back and forth, reveling in nasty passive aggression (him) and furtive, manipulative evil (her). It’s mostly for naught, especially once the old LaBute belatedly rears its ugly face, and how.

But he’s good with actors — or at least wrangling up fine actors. Tucci’s excellence is predictable, but Eve — who, in “Starter For 10” and even “Star Trek Into Darkness,” demonstrated a Marilyn Monroe-ish talent of using her cartoonish beauty to surprise us with comic chops — is the real star. One minute she seems oblivious, then cagey, then manipulative, then vulnerable, all without breaking a sweat. It’s a smooth performance and one of the few reasons to last through to the very end, even after a moment that all but invites you to bail.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Tattooed, bearded suspect sought in Williamsburg bike theft:…

The suspected thief faces grand larceny charges after investigators said he entered the building on North 5th Street in Williamsburg.

Local

Report: Rich New Yorkers don't move from NYC…

An Independent Budget Office analysis found that the wealthiest residents don't move out of the city any more or less than other New Yorkers.

National

Pioneers for domestic violence push on

Reporter was commissioned to write this in-depth article. Two decades have passed since the O.J. Simpson trial captivated the country. But in the 20 years…

Local

Food truck with a mission hires at-risk New…

A group branding itself as food trucks for social justice specifically hires and trains young men and women with troubled pasts.

Entertainment

'Bachelorette' recap: Episode 10, 'Men Tell All'

Why does the #MenTellAll episode exist? Because they don’t, and it shouldn’t. Is it a lazy vehicle to sell more ad space? Is it to…

Television

Olivia Williams explains the ins and outs of…

Olivia Williams plays a botanist beginning to suspect her physicist husband's work on the Manhattan Project might be ominous in WGN America's "Manhattan."

Movies

Scarlett Johansson on 'Lucy':' 'I guess I’m the…

Scarlett Johansson continues her foray into action movies with thriller “Lucy”, admitting it’s been an unexpected adventure.

Movies

Review: Liking Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'…

Woody Allen's latest, "Magic in the Moonlight," concerns a magician (Colin Firth) trying to debunk an alleged psychic (Emma Stone).

NFL

5 players to watch at Giants training camp

Metro takes a look at five players who will be on everyone’s mind when Giants training camp gets underway.

NFL

'Vicktory dogs' travel road to rehabilitation seven years…

Of the dozens of dogs groomed by Bad Newz Kennels, 48 were rescued and 22 of the pit bull terriers have emerged at Best Friends Animal Society.

MLB

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according…

Yankees looking at trade for Cliff Lee, according to report

NFL

Giants lineman Chris Snee to retire: Reports

The Giants report to training camp on Tuesday, but Chris Snee may not be there when they do.

Parenting

Buy gently worn back-to-school clothes with Kidizen

Kidizen allows parents to buy and sell gently worn back-to-school clothes.

Wellbeing

Ruling could be beginning of the end for…

This morning, a federal appeals court threw out an IRS regulation that implements subsidies for low-income Americans who bought insurance through Obamacare. These Affordable Care…

Tech

RocketSkates let users roll with a motor

Los Angeles company Acton has raised funds on Kickstarter to roll out a nifty alternative – motor-powered "RocketSkates."

Tech

Knicks star Carmelo Anthony becomes a tech entrepreneur

He's been an All-Star, an Olympian, and a celebrity spokesperson. Now NBA player Carmelo Anthony is adding the position "tech entrepreneur" to his resume. Along…