loony bin could even be considered a step backward, except that the amorous lesbian guard is ultimately perhaps the most gentle and caring of her admirers. Then there’s the charismatic guitar-playing, song-writing tattoo artist Coco Leger, played by Rupert Friend, whom some will remember from director Ireland’s very different Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont.
But Coco turns out to be unreliable, as does the next man, a Las Vegas gambler (Chazz Palminteri), although for very different reasons. And the guy after that, the handsome, impossibly wealthy born-again Christian scion of a Tulsa oil family (Michael Vartan), turns out to be the worst of them all.
Jolene gets off to a slow start. The first husband is such a pathetic doofus that the early scenes feel campy, despite a faithful rendering of the character by Zeb Newman. But the film gathers sureness as it goes along. Doctorow has a good story to tell, Yares adapts it intelligently, and Ireland has the craft to shape the material into a movie that holds our attention and gains our respect. The advantage of working from a short story, as opposed to a novel, is that the filmmakers can include pretty much the whole thing, and these filmmakers do just that.
The rose-colored glasses are half full: Jessica Chastain