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Amateur

4.6 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

A crackpot ex-nun (Huppert) who writes pornographic short stories crosses paths with an amnesiac (Martin Donovan) wandering the streets of New York City. When they set out to uncover his identity, they come face to face with his unsavory past including a vengeful porno actress (Elina Lowensohn) andruthless corporate assasins hot on their trail. One thing is certain, they are all amateurs when itcomes to affairs of the heart. Hailed by critics as "a sharp witted thriller, the extraordinary cast brings snap and surprising heart to Hartley's riffs on sex, lies and exploitation" (Peter Travers, ROLLING STONE).

Special Features

  • Making-of featurette

Product Details

  • Actors: Damian Young, Elina Lowensohn, Martin Donovan, Isabelle Huppert, Chuck Montgomery
  • Directors: Hal Hartley
  • Producers: Hal Hartley, Ted Hope
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)
    PLEASE NOTE:
    Some Region 1 DVDs may contain Regional Coding Enhancement (RCE). Some, but not all, of our international customers have had problems playing these enhanced discs on what are called "region-free" DVD players. For more information on RCE, click .
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: November 11, 2003
  • Run Time: 101 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000CDRW0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,332 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Amateur" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gordon Smith on March 22, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
I was channel-surfing when I landed on IFC showing a "comedy-drama" called Amateur. It was nearly an hour in, and there was this scene of these two geeky accountant types arguing about the merits of various cell-phones while using the wires from a floorlamp to electrocute a Christopher Lloyd look-alike. High-concept, but decidedly "B", I thought. But as the movie progressed, I began to notice the deliberation that led to the quirky stagger of the film. The style itself was saying things that the action couldn't begin to convey. This was high art! And it was funny in an intentionally-unintentional way.
The plot, about an ex-nun who now writes bad pornography, a porn queen with a grudge, and an ex-pornongrapher with amnesia, each searching for their identity, is interesting, but it doesn't begin to tell of the impressive stylishness of this movie. Amateur sucks you in like Beckett mixed with "letters to Penthouse", and leaves you satisfied on both accounts. If this sounds good to you, you should check it out. It shows on IFC quite frequently. Oh also, this movie turned me into a freak for Elina Lowensohn.
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By A Customer on December 22, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
Like all Hal Hartley films (I've seen Flirt and Henry Fool, but neither are as good as Amateur), this is a decidedly odd and mannered movie. The first time I saw it, the far-fetched plot and stilted characterizations are a bit unnerving. This is an ambitious project--Hartley explores the fall of man (an event which literally precedes the film) and original sin in the context of an off-kilter Manhattan thriller. There are some hilariously delivered deadpan one-liners (Martin Donovan: "You're a nyphmomanic and you've never had sex? How could that be?" Isabelle Huppert: "I'm choosy.") But the heart of the movie revolves around the title, and how, try as we might, we cannot escape who we are--Hartley seems to suggest that humanity's flaws are indelible, and despite the guises we might adopt, we are only novices. Amateur ranks low on entertainment value (see Air Force One instead), but a great thinking person's film: brainy, sly, somber, and at times (especially the ending), heartbreaking. Hartley's beguiling screenplay unravels its original insights upon repeated viewings, and it makes the effort worthwhile.
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Format: VHS Tape
A chance encounter in a coffee shop between two people, both of whom are seeking their own identities (one literally, one figuratively), leads to a relationship seemingly beneficial to both, but for different reasons, in "Amateur," written and directed by Hal Hartley. A man (Martin Donovan) wakes up one morning lying on his back in a quiet, out-of-the-way street in New York City; all he knows is that he's bleeding from the back of his head and is suffering from total amnesia. He has no identification on him; he has no idea who he is or how he came to be on that street. Dazed, he stumbles into a small coffee shop and sits down at the counter. He tries to order something, but the only money he has is Dutch, and he has no idea why. A young woman, also sitting at the counter and working on a lap-top computer, observes his plight and notices the blood on the back of his neck.
Her name is Isabelle (Isabelle Huppert); asking for some water, she cleans his injury and buys him something to eat. Isabelle, it turns out, is a former nun, having only recently left the convent after fifteen years. Rather lost herself, she is attempting to make a living by writing pornographic stories for a magazine. A self-professed nymphomaniac (though she is still a virgin), she also feels that she has a specific purpose in life, a destiny she has yet to fulfill, though she has yet to figure out what it is. But she believes that meeting this man is a sign; perhaps he's a part of whatever it is she has to do. So she decides to help him, which just may lead her to the answers she is seeking about her own life, as well.
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Format: VHS Tape
this is one of the best movies you'll find! hal hartley is one of america's most underrated filmmakers, right up there with p.t. anderson. for the uninitiated, hals' films stretch desire to its' very breaking point...see this and you'll be scouring your local video stores for everything that you can by the guy.
if only hollywood had more people like him making movies instead of all of the junk that tries to see how many different ways one can blow things up!
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By lbangs on December 29, 1999
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Restraint wrings our emotion. Jumping up and down can express joy, but a perfect ballet segment will convey ecstasy so complete the dance pratically creates it. Subtlety often can explode emotions larger than realism.
Hal Hartley understands this. The characters in his film do not talk like real people. Their speech is subdued, flat, and usually bluntly honest. Their small words carry mountains of meaning.
Most mystery films focus on the identity of the bad guy. This film instead chooses to explore the bad guy's identity. The film opens with him laying unconscious on a cobblestone street. He awakes but has no idea who he is. With this premise, the audience always knows who the bad guy is. He is in almost every frame of the feature. The rest of the film sets about discovering who the bad guy is.
I'm avoiding the film's plot. Telling too much about this film steals many of its pleasures, although I have enjoyed it each of the ten times I have seen it. Most scenes are arranged as artfully as a painting, the actors understand and enlarge Hartley's vision, and the music, ranging from Liz Phair to Pavement, is excellent.
This film may well be the best the ninties have to offer. Hartley's own Simple Men is one of the only other real contenders.
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