ENORMOUS CHANGES is based on three stories by Grace Paley, one of the most acclaimed short story writers of the 20th Century. The film has major stars such as Ellen Barkin & Kevin Bacon, & John Sayles is one of its credited screenwriters, so why is this film almost impossible to find?!?! I tracked down a “region 4” copy (from Australia), & watched it again. It’s not perfect, but the first “chapter” (based on the story “An Interest in Life”) is extremely well-done & definitely worth the seach.
Paley aficionados will know that “An Interest in Life” is the story that contains the line that became the title of GP’s first collection: The Little Disturbances of Man. The story is about Virginia –Virginia’s husband Jerry decides to “join the army” one day, leaving her alone with three children in a tiny Manhattan tennament…
Barkin is excellent as “Virginia,” able to convey all the passion & pathos required for her role. David Strathairn plays “Jerry” as a boy-man who’s both ardent & cruel. He knows he bears full responsibility for the predicament he’s in, but he’s determined to escape it nonetheless. Ron McLarty is touching & just a shade creepy as “John;” he makes it easy to understand why Virginia reacts as she does to his visits. Of course, the kids are all adorable, & when the inevitable “Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Johnday!” line comes, it’s perfect.
The other two chapters aren’t quite as strong, but they’re well-intentioned & definitely worth watching.