Richard LaGravenese's directorial debut is the sort of film most screenwriters dream of getting the chance to write, much less direct. Emphasizing the interior lives of its characters and using techniques unique to filmmaking to convey the evolution of each, its modest ambitions lead to highly memorable results. A scene in which Holly Hunter reconciles herself to her past and future while dancing in a bar loses power in any attempt to describe it, but on the screen provides a knockout moment. When screenwriters turn filmmakers, the first instinct is usually to rely on an excess of words to tell the story, a trap that LaGravenese -- though certainly no slouch when it comes to memorable dialogue -- skillfully avoids. Of course, the writer/director's good instincts would be nothing without the universally excellent cast he assembled. Holly Hunter, Danny De Vito, and Queen Latifah all turn in powerfully understated performances perfectly suited to a film that never takes the easy way out and never relies on pat resolutions. When the term "slice of life" gets thrown around, it's this film that should be the reference point.