Neil LaBute Spins a Tale on ‘Some Velvet Morning’

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CHICAGO – Writer/Director Neil LaBute has a righteous reputation as a harsh social critic, especially in the arena of relationships between men and women. To past films like “In the Company of Men,” “Your Friends & Neighbors” and “The Shape of Things,” LaBute adds “Some Velvet Morning.”

This is a two-person drama, set in a townhouse in Brooklyn, written and directed by LaBute. The character of the great Stanley Tucci locks horns with an ex-lover, played with amazing grace and presence by Alice Eve. This is a relationship dance, as the Tucci persona appears four years after the couple had broken up, and has an expectation that the relationship will be revived. The dynamics of their conversation in the real time of 83 minutes has elements of sexuality, male rage in power, family dynamics, desperation and cruelty. Although there are many moments difficult to watch, this is an explosive and creative take on the current state of man and woman coupling.

Velvet (Alice Eve) is relaxing in her perfectly tailored 3 floor flat in Brooklyn. Her relaxation is broken by a shrill buzzer, and outside on her stoop is Fred (Stanley Tucci), her client and lover from four years previous. The term “client” refers to Velvet’s profession as a high priced call girl, and their initial business relationship from the past had morphed into a affair, which ended when Fred would not leave his wife.

Alice Eve, Stanley Tucci
Velvet (Alice Eve) and Fred (Stanley Tucci) Co-mingle in ‘Some Velvet Morning’
Photo credit: Tribeca Film

Having finally taken that step, Fred’s expectation is that their relationship would begin anew, and he would stay at her home. After Velvet indicates that this would be impossible, Fred almost forces her to have a conversation about their life together, which escalates into crueler and crueler territory. Physical threats start becoming a possibility, and there is danger in what could transpire.

There are couple of things truly remarkable about this film achievement. First the casting of Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve. Tucci has his bona fides, and has had a higher profile as a character actor in the last 20 years. But here he is a force of determination, wielding his power both physically and psychologically. In contrast is the delicate actor Alice Eve, who has the right air of allure for her character and the right amount of tragedy.

Secondly, LaBute uses the confines of Velvet’s perfectly appointed flat with utter poise and ease, without any claustrophobia. It is the couple’s story that expands the horizons, and it is utterly absorbing and horrifying in confrontation. Velvet’s profession and her circumstances makes her totally vulnerable to this obviously powerful man, who is used to getting anything he wants. Her past and her sexuality hurts during their the one-on-one, and Fred takes full advantage of it.

The symbolism that unfolds from the couple’s story is so indicative of what the temperature is on relationships in a post technological age. A woman making money from carnal favors is pitted against a “pillar of society.” who thinks he is doing her a favor by moving in. As men become less important as “protectors” in a relationship, Fred’s mounting anger reflects that frustration. He cannot control Velvet by simply being there, so it stands to reason that he will use force.

Alice Eve
Velvet Shares a Reflection in ‘Some Velvet Morning’
Photo credit: Tribeca Film

The character of Velvet is a fascinating subject. Stunningly beautiful and vulnerable, she still asserts a freedom that Fred will never experience. She has rejected the troublesomeness of love, and uses her biological allure to fund her ever-expanding lifestyle. As a call girl, in other times, she would have been shown as the lowest life form in humanity. Now it’s the respected attorney, Fred, who escalates into a monster because he cannot be as free.

There is a defining lingering shot of Velvet at the end that has so much essence, for Eve communicates the whole of her being in a simple close up. It speaks to the energy of the film, in the way it reflects back off of all the shiny surfaces, including the false god of what strength and power means, and how it affects us.

’Some Velvet Morning’ continues it’s limited release in Chicago on December 20th, and is currently available with Video-On-Demand and digital platforms. See listings for theaters, show times, VOD locations and digital platforms. Featuring Stanley Tucci and Alice Eve. Written and directed by Neil LaBute. Rated “R” senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2013 Patrick McDonald,

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