Although its sentimentality, serious life lessons, and campy humor sometimes coexist less than peacefully, this modest outing from Muriel's Wedding director P.J. Hogan goes down easily thanks to the low-key performances of Kathy Bates and Rupert Everett. Bates, as jilted homemaker Grace Beasley, and Everett, as the secret gay lover of Barry Manilow-esque crooner Victor Fox, never oversell the feather-light material or take themselves too seriously. Even during the film's thoughtful moments, their performances are assuredly low-key. That leaves the broad comedy in the hands of supporting players Meredith Eaton (as a wonderfully profane daughter-in-law who just happens to be a little person) and Lynn Redgrave (as Fox's grasping, hypocritical sister). Peter Sarsgaard plays a window washer with the soul of a poet and a terrible secret, but he's far more convincing in his enigmatic early scenes than he is during the exaggerated denouement. Dan Aykroyd, as Grace's estranged husband, plays it surprisingly straight, but Jonathan Pryce gets to have fun as the retro pop singer whose death sets the plot in motion. If the script had been a little more over the top and a tad less concerned with Oprah-style epiphanies, Unconditional Love might not have gone straight to cable in the United States. As is, instead of a big-screen misfire, it's a pleasant small-screen trifle.
by Brian J. Dillard review