“Star Trek? I saw it this week. It’s going to blow you away!” Alice Eve told me on the red carpet of Neil LaBute’s “Some Velvet Morning,” Sunday night at the world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Eve stars as bossy scientific genius Dr. Carol Marcus in J. J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness,” now just a few weeks from its release, and fanboy anticipation for a return trip to the Starship Enterprise is at fever pitch.
“It’s a huge gargantuan film. It’s the opposite of this,” Eve said, referring to “Some Velvet Morning,” an intimate two-person play set in a Brooklyn townhouse. “Star Trek, it’s a lot of people. There were 11 or 12 of us.” Lots of people. Lots of money. Lots of special effects!
This was as much as Eve, who looked great in a Reem Acra midnight blue dress, would tell me about “Star Trek Into Darkness.”
But back to “Some Velvet Morning,” a theatrical movie with two people and a small budget that was shot in eight days. Like Neil LaBute’s early plays and movies, this is about a relationship, which means man vs. woman, who lie, cheat and betray each other, without remorse or guilt. In LaBute country, nothing is what it seems, and there’s usually a surprise ending that can feel like a sucker punch.
On the surface “Some Velvet Morning” is about a middle-aged man (Stanley Tucci, who was in London filming), who shows up at the apartment of Velvet (Eve), a much younger woman. He’s carrying suitcases, and he tells Velvet he has just left his wife for her. Velvet is surprised and alarmed. Their relationship was over four years earlier, and she’s now involved with her former lover’s son, even though he’s married. It’s all a muddle. Tucci’s character doesn’t want to leave and unloads the reason for his arrival. He and Velvet rehash their relationship, and things get nasty and rough.
Usually it’s the men who behave badly in his plays, but LaBute reminded me, “I’ve had a couple of women do some naughty things, as well, but yeah, men have been a particular target of mine.”
“I think it’s relatively equitable in this particular piece. It’s a story of love, and I think that you see how far love can stretch and we stretch it pretty far. But I think you understand both these characters, too. They’re not monsters. They’re people who have wants and needs. They get angry with each other. It’s a little slice of somebody’s life. It’s not my life, but someone’s.”
I asked LaBute if this was a return to the themes of his earlier films. “I think so. I think it’s more like it just in terms of very contained small number of actors, and a very tight story and a very kind of simple and elegant way of filming it. So I hope it’s a kind of a return to the earlier stuff that I did.”
Eve told me her character behaves just as badly as Tucci’s. “Yes, Neil’s suddenly become less sexist. He’s found his female voice. He did a beautiful job, and he really seems to understand women, especially in ‘Some Velvet Morning,’ all the complexity of a dark female soul at least.”
Was Velvet fun to play? “Fun may be a little reductive. It was a trip. It was epic,” Eve said. “Disturbing? Absolutely.”