Here is something for you to take as a personal work. What that means is that the filmmaker has explicit ties to the situations shown here.
Regardless, there remained an attempt to enwrap her personal drama into a formula. I don’t fault this because her desire to get the film made was stronger than the want to show bare truth. And after all, it is not nice to curse the means which helped this come to me.
So as a defacto tactic, the principal character is a playwright whose plays borrow deliberately from her life. She has a brother whose philosophy of art differs from hers. He believes stories should overtly reflect their agenda, avoiding fabricated emotionality. She doesn’t agree but because he is an element of her life, she borrows some of his ideas. So as to avoid any missteps, she dates a director who is line with that same philosophy.
You can clearly see where their influence stepped in. It is a little clumsy.
But these two great actors are so full of lucid insight that they make the whole thing worthwhile. Linney impressed me the most here. There is a lie that she spews during the second act. Her poker face is so good that it remained undetectable the second time I watched it. Now watch her posture and then her eyes, they convey much of the same fumbling that the script does.
Hoffman struts. He’s in charge of conveying the intended emotional space of the story. Watch him cry at the end after seeing his sister’s play. She asks him if he likes it. He does. In fact so convincingly that we do too.