Robinson Redux

The Pallbearer follows in The Graduate's footsteps

Hershey is so good in her role, and her interplay with Schwimmer is handled so sensitively, that her scenes with him throw the movie off balance. They have more gravitas, and much more at stake, than anything else on-screen. The rest of The Pallbearer is a slight but enjoyable confection about intensely self-aware twentysomethings who know they're on the brink of making decisions with lifelong consequences.

Gwyneth Paltrow is very good as Julie, a disaffected young woman who isn't ready to settle down with anyone, but who isn't totally immune to Tom's charms. It is very much to the film's credit that Julie is given the benefit of her own doubts and allowed to pursue her own path. The filmmakers refuse to blithely dismiss her need to resolve her inner confusion. And if that means we are left without a conventionally happy ending, so be it.

Likewise, it is good that Tom does not completely resolve the conflicts that threaten his relationships with Brad and Scott. Without making a big deal about it, The Pallbearer hints that, sometimes, a major part of growing up is giving up as much as you gain. And one of the things you may have to give up is a friendship with someone that, when you really stop to think about it, you don't really like. Or have outgrown.

The Pallbearer is just good enough to make you wish it were much better.

The Pallbearer.
Directed by Matt Reeves. With David Schwimmer, Gwyneth Paltrow and Barbara Hershey.

Rated PG-13.
94 minutes.

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