'She Came to Me' Review
“She Came to Me” is hard to describe. Looking at the poster, with a New York City backdrop behind stars Peter Dinklage, Anne Hathaway and Marisa Tomei, you might think it’s a love triangle romantic comedy And maybe, since it is set in The Big Apple, you might predict it’s one of those rom-coms filled with plot conveniences and cutesy character coincidences.
Well, there’s some of that. But there’s also much, much more. Writer/director Rebecca Miller (daughter of famed playwright Arthur Miller and wife of famed actor Daniel Day-Lewis) has crafted one of the unique movies of the year. The biggest compliment I can give Miller is that “She Came to Me” features scenes, situations, and characterizations I’ve never seen before. And some of it works, but a lot of it doesn’t.
The one word to accurately describe “She Came to Me” is bizarre. It’s as if Miller got her story elements from the audience at an improv show or a game of Mad Libs:
“We need a genre of music!” Opera. Dinklage’s Steven is a composer struggling to come-up with his next masterpiece. He’s married to Hathaway’s Rebecca. “How about an occupation for her?” Therapist. “And what is she obsessed with?” Cleanliness and Nuns.
They have a high school senior son, Julian, who just turned 18. His girlfriend Tereza is 16. Their relationship (and that age difference) drives a key branch of the narrative.
“What about a job for the woman Steven meets at a bar?” Tugboat captain. That’s Tomei’s Katrina. “And what is she recovering from?” Sex and love addiction. Watching rom-coms put her over the edge, to the point of stalking. [Bruce Springsteen provides an original closing credits song, “Addicted to Romance”.]
“So what is Tereza’s father’s occupation?” Court stenographer. Brian D’Arcy James plays the strict dad. “And what’s his obsession?” Civil War Reenactments. “And what does Tereza’s mom do?” She’s a maid (played by “Cold War”’s Joanna Kulig).
“She Came to Me” is three or four disparate movie ideas (some of them pretty good ideas) all blended together. Its tone bounces from light to dark to creepy. There’s also a constant aspect ratio shift, hilariously intense opera scenes, and a naked Hathaway screaming her lungs out. In short, this movie is a trip.
One of the movie’s major themes (along with the search for one’s life passion) is the idea of escaping reality. The experience of watching “She Came to Me” absolutely provides that. The script is often oblivious to common sense. There are a number of flat, awkward moments which force you to wonder, “Was that supposed to be funny? Did Miller want us to laugh there?” They’re followed-up with situations that are odd, unsettling, unnecessary, or even quirkier and crazier than what just happened.
Dinklage’s performance is the most interesting. A scene in which he argues with a lead actress over her performance during a rehearsal is a highlight, because it offers a glimpse of what this entire movie could have been had it just focused on a few aspects and did them well, instead of a half-dozen that each only succeed less than half of the time.
“She Came to Me” will always come back to me when I reminisce about my movie experiences of 2023. It’s not very good, but it sure is memorable.