With her penchant for autobiography and assured grasp of the humor underlying quotidian existence, writer-director Nicole Holofcener has avoided the pitfalls of trite sentimentality in crafting her genuinely funny and moving films about the complex bonds between women.
The daughter of a stage-actor father and set-decorator mother, Holofcener grew up in New York City and Santa Monica, CA. Through her stepfather, Charles Joffe, Holofcener landed her first job in the movie industry as a production assistant on Woody Allen's A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy (1982). Her aspirations solidified by her stint as an apprentice editor on Hannah and Her Sisters (1986), Holofcener got her graduate degree in film at Columbia University in the late '80s, where her sly student short Angry already presaged her ability to turn her personal experiences into smart comedy.
It took Holofcener six years, however, to make her first feature. Based on her conflicted emotions over her best friend's impending marriage, Holofcener's Walking and Talking (1996) was a distinctly wise as well as funny examination of female friendship and New York singles. Starring Catherine Keener as Holofcener's cranky but affectionately resigned avatar and Anne Heche as the jittery bride, Walking and Talking became an art house hit and stoked Keener's and Heche's rising careers. Turning to TV while gestating her second feature, Holofcener's gift for portraying women free of chick-flick dross made her a felicitous choice for helming episodes of HBO's smash New York women comedy series Sex and the City (1998) and the WB's acclaimed mother-daughter dramedy Gilmore Girls (2000). The female-centric NBC sitcom Leap of Faith (2002), however, was less well received. Her skills honed by her TV work, Holofcener's second film, Lovely & Amazing (2002), garnered rapturous reviews as an assured, clear-eyed women's comedy. Centering on a mother, her two grown daughters, and her eight-year-old adopted African-American daughter, Lovely & Amazing astutely skewered female obsessions with body image with humor and pain, confirming their deep familial affection despite their outward displays of petty resentment and superficial worries.