November 20, 2002
Described as akin to watching Jerry Springer guests after they've left the show and gone back home, Better Housekeeping focuses on the problems of Don (Bob Jay Mills) and his wife, Donatella (Petra Westen), whose marriage is so far past being on the rocks it's awaiting the salvage crew. Rather than head for divorce court, Don decides it's easier to put up a ramshackle plasterboard dividing line, cleaving his house down he middle; a hole is left in to allow the couple's son, Don, Jr (Andrew Eichner), easy access to both parents, for whom he acts as a messenger. Donatella, a forklift operator who would have to go to finishing school in order to step up to being merely crude, is also the object of a lesbian crush by the accountant who works at the same factory, Marion. Marion is as polite and well-mannered as Donatella is foul-mouthed and crass, but Marion is hopelessly enamored of Donatella and hopes to improve her love's demeanor by setting an example. All this is played for laughs, as Don and Donatella try to straighten out the mess they've made of their lives, deal with the problems of their friends and bring up their son to achieve something better for himself.
Critics have widely praised Better Housekeeping since it premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival in 2002, but it has had a tough time getting a US release after its original distributor, Shooting Gallery Films, went out of business. It has now found a home with Universal Focus and will see a very-limited, New York-only release beginning November 20, 2002. If word-of-mouth in New York is as good as critical reception has been, one hopes it will be released in other cities and have a chance to find an slightly wider audience. (Stephanie Star Smith/BOP)