Film Review: ‘Outliving Emily’

Courtesy of Montreal World Film Festival

Chronicling a marriage of 60 years in half a dozen segments with six different pairs of actors portraying the long-hitched couple, “Outliving Emily” illustrates helmer-writer Eric Weber’s politically correct thesis: “No matter who we are — man, woman, black, white, gay, straight — we all love the same.” It’s a nice concept, utilizing an oddball cast, with the segments linked by arch commentary from a voiceover narrator (Kathleen Turner). But overall, this indie dramedy — the sole U.S. entry competing at the Montreal World Film Festival — is about as profound as a Hallmark greeting card and as sophisticated as an average Lifetime movie.

Weber (“Second Best,” “Jersey Christmas”), formerly a highly successful advertising copywriter and author of books such as “How to Pick Up Girls on the Side,” first turned his story “The Pact” into a short film co-directed with Sean Devaney. That short, here called “Attachment,” shows Emily and Tim Hanratty (Olympia Dukakis, Louis Zorich) near the end of their lives, still loving but burdened by health problems. Fragments from this section are intercut throughout the other episodes, although the majority of it plays at the end of the otherwise chronological pic.

In “Attraction,” we witness the first meeting of Emily (Zosia Mamet) and Tim (Thomas Mann) in the 1950s, in a Boston bar full of hot-to-trot college boys hitting on the local women. She’s a nurse — and an older woman; he’s a virgin. Although Emily likes Tim’s slick friend Raymond Phayer (Jeremy Jordan), an attraction that causes Tim no end of jealousy throughout the six segments, they wind up together.

By “Discord,” set in the mid-’60s (“during the Sexual Revolution,” Turner intones), the pair (Alexis Bledel and Kal Penn, cast against type) are married with a young daughter, Meg (Gianna Galluzzi). Pediatric nurse Emily finds marriage more difficult than she imagined. She resents Tim’s total devotion to his editorial job, his weekly golf game with Phayer and the guys, and his cheapness.

In “Betrayal,” set during the swinging ’70s, money no longer seems an issue, but the desire for sexual experimentation does. Phayer (Gary Milner), now an elegant Brit, tempts Emily (Cara Buono), while conniving publishing underling Helayne (Jennifer Damiano) tries to seduce Tim (Dominic Fumusa). According to the narrator, it marks the first time in their marriage that they’ve lied to each other. In “Healing,” Emily is fiftysomething Emile (Malcolm Gets), just recovering from heart surgery while Tim (David Pittu) has a run-in with Helayne (Zainab Jah), who’s now his boss. Looking at the size of the bouquet that Phayer (Richard Joseph Paul) drops by the apartment, Tim dubs him a closet case.

The Hanratty-Phayer relationship becomes even closer in “Acceptance,” in which (Adepero Oduye) marries Riley (Edan Alexander), the son of Raymond (Vincent Filliatre), after already bearing his child. Phylicia Rashad and Andre Braugher are great fun to watch as concerned grandparents Emily and Tim, with Tim particularly irritated by the airs and graces of the ceremony and reception, paid for by the Phayer side.

Weber’s script is basically one-note, but as the actors portraying the central characters get older, the better and more credible that one note sounds. The cheerful tech package has a small-screen ready look.

Film Review: 'Outliving Emily'

Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (competing), Aug. 29, 2015. Running time: 89 MIN.


A Tenafly Film Co., Bullet Pictures production. Produced by Josh Sugarman, Eric Weber, Adam Folk, Executive producers, Linda Moran, Rene Bastian, Bob Quinn.


Directed, written by Eric Weber, based on his short story “The Pact.” Camera (color, HD), Timothy Naylor; editor, Adam Mack; music, Ronan Coleman, Charles Goodan; production designer, Alexandra Schaller; art director, Danica Pantic; costume designer, Havi Elkaim; associate producer, Sean Devaney; casting, Sig De Miguel, Steve Vincent.


Narrator: Kathleen Turner



Zosia Mamet, Thomas Mann, Jeremy Jordan, Luke Brandon Field, Adam Rose.



Alexis Bledel, Kal Penn, Gianna Galluzzi, Alan Simpson, Peter Y. Kim, Josh Sugarman, Teresa Kelsey.



Cara Buono, Dominic Fumusa, Alexis Molnar, Gary Milner, Julia Murney, Jennifer Damiano, Joel Rooks, Peter Von Berg.



Malcolm Gets, David Pittu, Richard Joseph Paul, Zainab Jah, Priscilla Shanks, Drena De Niro, Alok Tewari, Jenny Bacon, Dana Eskelson.



Phylicia Rashad, Andre Braugher, Adepero Oduye, Vincent Filliatre, Edan Alexander, Catherine Ryan, Oliver Solomon, Olivia Negron, Tibor Feldman.



Olympia Dukakis, Louis Zorich, Bernie McInerney.