Former television comedy writer Semple offers a semi-satirical, funny-sad romance about a spoiled Hollywood wife, a former television writer, who considers risking all for a wholly inappropriate affair with a sleazy musician.
Violet is the bored, inattentive mother of one-year-old Dot and the unhappy wife to exacting music impresario David when she and bass player Teddy meet cute in a men’s room. Setting aside his greasy hair and coarse conversation, Teddy’s a junkie in AA and a self-described sex addict. Violet, who lives her life according to Stephen Sondheim lyrics, is charmed despite her revulsion. Not only does she pay to have Teddy’s car repaired, soon she is sending Dot to the babysitter and David to a yoga retreat so she and Teddy can have (graphically) dirty sex in her multimillion-dollar Richard Neutra house on Mulholland Drive. David, a self-made man who can be a son of a bitch but who genuinely loves his wife, realizes Violet is cheating and works through his anger in the yoga sweat lodge until he decides to love the marriage back together. Self-absorbed Violet is torn and distracted, but aside from when Dot sustains a minor injury due to maternal negligence, her melodrama is internal. On the other hand, Teddy has actual problems, including Hepatitis C and a lack of disposable income, not to mention that taste for drugs. His feelings for Violet remain ambiguous until he shows emotional courage as his physical strength ebbs. A subplot concerns David’s mercenary and unbelievably dense sister who marries for money and fame, only to learn that her new hubby has (horrors!) Asperger’s syndrome. Her questionable character is supposedly excused by her trauma as a diabetic, and she experiences spiritual redemption after contracting Hep-C: In an unhappy coincidence at her wedding she injects her Humalog with the same needle Teddy has used to shoot up.
Clearly smart and talented, Semple never satisfactorily accomplishes the difficult task of balancing nasty comedy and romantic uplift.