Very often in life, we’re forced to wear different masks. Except with very close friends and family, people don’t typically present their true character. Think of it as a necessary evil. There are times when we need to suppress a side of ourselves to function throughout the day. Perhaps the person you are during a weekend with friends is not the person that will close that deal at work on Monday. Director Nancy Savoca shows us what happens when those masks begin to crumble with her film, Union Square.
Lucy (Mira Sorvino) finds herself close to her sister Jenny’s (Tammy Blanchard) house after a rather upsetting trip to Union Square. Lucy decides to drop in unannounced after having not seen her sister in years. Jenny is about to be married, and has kept her life very private in the years she’s been gone, building a life that Lucy can’t understand. As the sisters reluctantly catch up, the lives they’ve carefully built for themselves start to give way, revealing their true feelings.
For a film that turns out so well, it can be a bit of a challenge to get through the opening scenes. Sorvino’s character is especially grating with her constant squealing and high pitched voice. Tammy Blanchard goes in the complete opposite direction with Jenny, a woman who is obviously trying her hardest to be everything she really isn’t. Their completely false appearances seem to work against them at first, but that really is the entire point. The lives they’ve built for themselves aren’t true, and just don’t work. It’s when the two characters have spent some time together that we start to see their true colours, creating two well balanced women attempting to deal with their own struggles.
Caught in the middle is Jenny’s fiancÃ© Bill (Mike Doyle). He’s never met Lucy, and obviously hasn’t been told the entire story. As Jenny starts to reveal more of herself, Bill begins to learn things that he never expected to find out, all while trying to deal with Lucy as she walks a fine line between normalcy and nervous breakdown. His character adds a bit of humour to the film as well, mostly from him trying to be as gracious to Lucy as possible.
As the film moves along, small details are revealed about the life the sisters had, showing us the reasons that have brought them to their different destinations. There are a few surprises, but nothing so drastic as to call it a twist. This is a film very grounded in reality, allowing viewers to understand, and relate to, the various situations that this broken family has found themselves in. There are many moments in life that people may want to forget, or even pretend never happened, but this film shows how we can’t change the things that happened to us by hiding. Both Jenny and Lucy have to realize that what has come before is what has made them who they are. The sooner they take off the masks they wear and accept who they truly are, the better their lives will become.