NY Daily News

Once in Love With Amy
In a charming comedy about a Gen X-er who falls for a lesbian, path to romance isn't always straight.
3 Stars out of Four

By Dave Kehr

Director Kevin Smith captured a big chunk of the Gen-X zeitgeist with his 1994 independent hit, "Clerks," but took a big step back with his diappointingly conventional studio outing, "Mallrats." "Chasing Amy," through, should redeem his reputation as the sharpest chronicler of the tattoed generation. An unashamedly talky comedy, set in a series of bars and lofts that are just sketched-in backgrounds for the characters' nonstop conversations, the film is an ingratiatingly sincere attempt to deal with the complications and contradictions of modern romance. Smith's here, Holden (reedy Ben Affleck,) has a dream job. Working with his old high school pal, Banky (Jason Lee), he's the creator of a highly successful cult comic book. When Holden meets Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams) at a fan convention, he's sure he's found the woman of his dreams - she's smart sexy and a succesful comic book artist. Alyssa likes Holden, too, but true love must run a complicated course: First, there's the question of Alyssa's lesbianism to deal with. When that is somewhat miraculously straightened out, an ever thornier issue emerges from Alyssa's past, driving Holden into a hot, jealous rage. Smith doesn't pay much heed to political correctness-his dialogue is as salty as ever-but his film is ultimately a passionate plea in favor of understanding and acceptance, refreshingly heartfelt and cant-free. Smith himself plays the lesson-giver, a speechless dope dealer named Silent Bob who first appeared in "Clerks" and who here breaks his silence to relate the parable that gives the movie its title. It's fitting that Smith finally should allow himself to talk. He's the most cheerfully verbal filmmaker since the French master, Eric Rohmer, with whom he shares a blend of romantic longing and moral concern. "Chasing Amy" is not yet a mature work-Smith still needs a style to go with his sensibility- but its yearning for maturity is palpable and touching.