Once Around (1991)

Genres - Comedy Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Domestic Comedy, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Jan 18, 1991 (USA)  |   Run Time - 115 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Swedish director Lasse Hallström's first American picture met with a generally tepid reception from audiences and critics, but it's worth another look in retrospect. Once Around is of a piece with the director's shaggy, gently satirical portraits of tightly knit families and the forces that threaten to break them apart. The plot -- vulnerable Renata Bella (Holly Hunter) takes up with a smarmy condo salesman (Richard Dreyfuss) who alienates the rest of her clan -- is the stuff of television melodrama, but Hallström seizes on the script's ethnic clashes and meandering dialogue to craft a messier, more authentic vision of a proud American family. Despite the two performers' conspicuous lack of chemistry in 1989's Always, here they complement each other well. The over-animated Dreyfuss is used to good effect, as his impulsive, eccentric outbursts are played for tension as opposed to punchlines; it becomes understandable that Hunter's slightly manic Renata would be smitten with him.