The war between men and women rages on in Neil Labute’s Some Velvet Morning

by Mark Burger

Having tarried in stage and toiled in high-concept cinema — The Wicker Man (2006), Lakeview Terrace, (2008) and Death at a Funeral (2010), all disappointments — writer/director Neil LaBute revisits his trademark theme of the complex, contentious relationships between men and women in Some Velvet Morning.

In the case of this small-scale twohander, however, it would be one man (Stanley Tucci’s Fred) and one woman (Alice Eve’s titular Velvet). Fred has arrived one morning at Velvet’s house with luggage in hand, claiming he’s left his wife.

Fred and Velvet broke off their relationship four years ago, but clearly, it wasn’t a clean break. Velvet, who first met Fred while dating his son Chris, is still seeing Chris — only he’s now married. Velvet also earns her living the old-fashioned way: She’s a call girl.

Clearly, Fred and Velvet have a lot to talk about. And so they do, for approximately 85 minutes.

Recriminations and accusations, some quite vicious (as per the LaBute methodology), are tossed back and forth between the two characters. There are some incisive moments (also per LaBute) and a few twists — including a “Big Reveal” at the fade-out that attentive audiences may well see coming.

Confining the action to Velvet’s house, to say nothing of between only two characters, gives the film the unmistakable aura of a theater piece. It’s a nice exercise for the two actors, both of whom work very hard, and for LaBute, but when Fred announces, “We’re going around in circles,” he’s made the most incisive statement of all.

Some Velvet Morning opens Friday at a/ perture cinemas in Winston-Salem.