When Jane (Brenda Blethyn) is about to have a liposuction operation, her unhappily married daughter Michelle (Catherine Keener) agrees to look after Jane’s adopted eight-year-old black American, Annie (Raven Goodwin) while she is in hospital. In the meantime, Michelle’s younger sister, aspiring movie actress Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer) is anxious that she is not sexy enough for her boyfriend – and especially when asked to audition with movie star Kevin McCabe (Dermot Mulroney).

An engaging character-driven tale.

The obsession with how we look and who we are and what we need from others forms the backbone of this story of four women, a mother and three daughters. Jane (Brenda Blethyn) is a well-to-do middle aged woman about to have liposuction, and partly because of her innate concern as well as her need she's adopted a young black girl Annie (Raven Goodwin) whose mother was a crack addict. Her oldest daughter is Michelle (Catherine Keener) whose marriage is falling apart at the seams and who, after failing at her rather pathetic artistic endeavours finds work in a one hour photo shop with Jordan (Jake Gyllenhaal). Michelle is jealous of everyone. Elizabeth (Emily Mortimer) is an actress, insecure about everything, in a destructive relationship with Paul (James le Gros). She auditions with star Kevin McCabe (Dermot Mulroney) a sexual chemistry read. All these women are needy, they give and they take.

This second feature from writer/director Nicole Holofcener who made Walking and Talking is about the strength of family and even though it's not a neat package of a family it's about the glue that binds. She brings an economy and intelligence to her work. She's very well served by her ensemble cast, Brenda Blethyn giving one of her least grating performances, Catherine Keener who is often a strength in indie films is excellent as always, with Mortimer and young Raven Goodwin, extraordinarily effective. This is a film that makes you look at us the way we really are, full of doubts and insecurities and pettiness, and makes you embrace us with affection and compassion.