A comedy of varying shades of lightness, about a romantic triangle among the hard-driven workers on a network news team. Writer-director James L. Brooks often seems to draw on, and polish up, his previous work in series television. The anchorman who represents style over substance (William Hurt) is a realistic improvement, for example, on the Ted Knight character of The Mary Tyler Moore Show — although his utter lack of journalistic credentials still makes him seem more like a local newsman than a national one. And there is a lesson on the "creative" editing of TV news that brings to mind a specific episode of Lou Grant. For all its earnest didacticism, the movie happily never brings to mind Paddy Chayefsky's script for Network: the author's voice doesn't indiscriminately pop out of the mouths of a variety of characters; they all speak with their own voice. (In fact it often sounds as if Albert Brooks, as the experienced and principled field reporter, is writing his own lines: "Wouldn't it be a great world if desperation and insecurity made us attractive? If needy were a turn-on?") These characters, much more than the usual fictional ones, do a lot of talking about their work, and there is a convincing sense of shared intimacy ("I'll meet you at the place near the thing where we went that time"). And the romance, as such, proceeds without any sense of rush. Or ultimately, and most refreshingly, without any consummation. The coda, after a lapse of seven years, achieves almost a Truffaut-esque bittersweetness, as well as the darkest shade of light in the entire film. With Holly Hunter and Jack Nicholson. (1987) — Duncan Shepherd
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