large_SOME_VELVET_MORNING_1_pubs

The trouble concerning Some Velvet Morning – and oh, there is trouble – is that the Neil LaBute film cannot be discussed fully without being seen, for a large piece of the plot puzzle needs to remain hidden to audiences going into the theaters. Despite that caveat, there’s plenty to share about this aggressive, tense drama.

At its core, Some Velvet Morning is a study of two people in the most intimate way. The film is simply a little over an hour of a man and a woman talking to one another in real time about why their relationship went sour; and though it’s apparent that this is more than just a polite conversation, more than just two old pals recapping an old love, the audience is stuck in that room watching their conversation unfold as if it’s happening to two (terrible) people they know.

We’re first introduced to Velvet (Alice Eve) through the gaze of a voyeur, the camera watching her lounging on the couch in a red dress as she listens to something unknown through her headphones. In her beautiful little brownstone (which we’ll come to know well) all is quaint until the raucous arrival of a man carrying armfuls of suitcases at her front door.

He is Fred (Stanley Tucci), her former lover, who ecstatically announces that he has finally gotten around to leaving his wife and is ready to be with Velvet now. The problem is that Fred and Velvet haven’t had any contact for over four years at this point, and she looks less than pleased to see him at her front door. Almost frightened, actually.

Velvet (not her real name, but we are never given any hints otherwise) swallows her nerves and lets her impatient ex into the house, and with that innocuous gesture, ushers in years worth of bruised egos, biting words and paranoia. LaBute designs his characters so that they reveal just tiny parts of themselves as they refamiliarize themselves with each other and their past relationship; as the afternoon wears on, the tension mounts as Fred slowly gets it through his head that Velvet was not expecting him to show up that afternoon, nor was she welcoming him with open arms.

It’s a slow burn of a narrative, a tense and uncomfortable glimpse into a private conversation that ebbs and flows in the worst direction possible. They are not on the same page, obviously, when it comes to the two of them, and as they struggle to form some semblance of a civilized conversation where they express what they really want to say to each other (or in Velvet’s case, how much she wants him to leave), their fumbled signals and attempts at lightening the mood with corny jokes make the next accusation that much more piercing.

Fred’s transformation is the most volatile, changing from the excited man at the front door to something much more sinister when his affections are not reciprocated. Alternating from a needy ex-boyfriend who needs Velvet’s love more than anything, to a pompous and condescending ass who can’t help but pick on her career choices, he settles in his very worst form toward the end of the exchange. Fred morphs into a misogynistic, vile monster who can only see Velvet through a veil of hatred. She was the thing he loved the most, and she’s also the one who took that away. Worse yet – she doesn’t care.

That’s not to count Velvet out, though. An impossibly beautiful, icy blonde, her confidence comes out in little blips, but bursts forth in great waves once she’s decided she’s had enough of dear Fred. The audience (and maybe even Fred) is surprised to know that the delicate, soft woman who speaks so gently could have such fire and meanness within her – more than enough skill for a somewhat-newcomer like Eve to hold her own with the quick-witted, experienced Tucci.

When their clash comes to its apparent end, it’s clear that it’s not actually the end of their tormented relationship – as much as we, the viewers would want that to be so. The ending of the film is a powerful, twisted knife that will likely leave the audience in disbelief – maybe a little angry. LaBute knows how to write two people interacting with one another, but the word is still out on whether or not he can create that relationship with his audience.