Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle: Celebrating Flawed Heroine, Played by Jennifer Jason Leigh

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle is Alan Rudolph’s ambitious but unsatisfying account of Dorothy Parker, the acerbic, witty, boozy writer, who went from one unhappy affair to another, and at one point even attempted suicide.

The movie takes a disenchanted view of Mrs. Parker and her literary club, the noted Algonquin Round Table.

Lacking depth, the movie is at its best in conveying the group’s frivolous life: How they boozed, played infantile games, wasted their talents. With so much fun and partying around, you may wonder when they had time to produce any work. Though lovingly recreating the cultural milieu, Rudolph’s approach is judgmental, presenting the group as shallow.

Parker continues to drink and joke as her personal life falls to pieces. The problem is that Parker doesn’t change much as a character in the course of the tale.  She’s just as dissolute and alcoholic in 1919 as she is in 1937–or when the movie ends, rather arbitrarily, in the l960s.