The Muse (1999)

Directed by Albert Brooks

Like all Albert Brooks comedies, The Muse has an understated quality that grows out of Brooks’ on screen persona and can sometimes be a bit misleading.

His movies don’t generally have some of the frenetic quality associated with all out comedies – or at least certain types of comedies.

I think it has to do with the fact the humour is more in the dialogue, and also the manner of Brooks himself.

The movies aren’t slapstick, though they often have slapstick moments.

Steven Phillips (Albert Brooks) is a screenwriter who has lost his edge; Laura (Andie MacDowell) is his wife.

In The Muse, Brooks is a Hollywood screenwriter who has “lost his edge.” He doesn’t know what this means, but everyone agrees he’s lost it. And he’s on his way out.

Not sure what to do or where to go, Brooks visits a friend (Jeff Bridges) who introduces him to a muse, played by Sharon Stone.

He’s not sure how she works or what he has to do, but he sees everyone else she has worked for and the success they have had and decides he has to enlist her aid.

Stone is wonderful a flighty, self-indulgent daughter of Zeus.

As it turns out, she doesn’t seem to do much except roll up the expenses for Brooks. As she says, vaguely, she “inspires.” And Brooks life becomes chaos.

Sharon Stone is Sarah Little, the Muse.

He finds himself running around doing errands for her. He has to adjust his own life to accomodate her whims.

And he has to watch as she helps others too, including his wife (Andie MacDowell) as she suddenly develops a cookie empire.

Through it all, he feels left out. When is she going to help him? He doesn’t see this and feels resentful, yet he is writing his best screenplay ever. Everytime he has a breakthrough, his joy brims over.

It all plays well and is all very funny – particularly some of the cameo appearance by people like James Cameron and Martin Scorcese.

What the film is really about is a mid-life career crisis, a moment when, completely unexpectedly, a person realizes they have somehow lost “it.”

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