(director/writer: Nicholas Barker; cinematographer: William Rexer 11; editor: Paul Binns; cast: Brenda Monte, Michael De Stephano, Aimee Copp, Mikey Russo; Runtime: 95; Chelsea/Acetelyene; 1997)
“The result is an interesting and stylized docudrama, a “Rear Window” for singles so to speak.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Whether the story is entirely true or in some parts made up as the director stated, is unimportant; the film covers the intriguing subject matter of how four single New Yorkers exist for a period of nine months. It features the supposed real-lives of two female and two male actors who play themselves, who are concerned with getting older and still being single. Their single scene is provocatively portrayed as being a sad and a luridly comical one. It is a film that highlights the problems of dating that can be found in urban areas all across America, as we hear of the plight of these singles trying to search for a mate through the Internet and the personals and in bars. That these four are not particularly people whom I can readily sympathize with does not alter the fact that this is a very human story, one that has many implications on our culture, relating to how alienated so many of us have become in this modern world.
The result is an interesting and stylized docudrama, a “Rear Window” for singles so to speak. The film imitates those 1950s Greenwich Village apartment windows Jimmy Stewart looked into to witness a murder. This time it is not a crime that we see, but is a delight for a voyeur. There is something that seems to excite us when we sneak a look at what someone does in the privacy of their own home, it as if we are seeing something about them that we shouldn’t see.
Brenda Monte is the amusing one in this group. She is Italian and she does not care for Jewish men, and will not even consider dating them because she does not find them attractive. She is most proud of her big breasts, and has a 20-year-old daughter from a previously failed marriage. She tells us she receives no child support. She wants a guy not for sex or love, but for monetary reasons (she tells us sex is no problem, that she can have sex whenever she wants to). She wants to work out some deal with a guy where she gets money for the relationship; but, it should be clear that she is not a prostitute. Her story is interspliced with the three other stories, but there are no connecting links.
Michael De Stephano is the nicest of the four, except this little negative fixation he has about homosexuals. It stems from his fear that people will think that he is queer because he is not married. He is a 40-year-old romantic, who is troubled that women find his diminuitive height to be a turn-off. He wants a permanent relationship with marriage in mind. He is serious, stable, and straightforward. He sounds a lot like what women want in a guy; he says that is what they say they want, but in reality they are really attracted to the jerks who lie to them and treat them badly.
Aimee Copp has the most serious problems of the four. She is obese, depressive, has lost hope, suffers from a poor image of herself, and desperately wants to get married. She relates these feelings to her lifetime childhood friend Laurie, who happens to be skinny and is not faced with the tormenting dating problems her 28-year-old friend is having. Aimee breaks down in a tearful display over her desperate situation, which might be acting or real, or maybe a little of both.
Mikey Russo is a braggart, who backs up his claims that he only goes out with beauties by showing snapshots of some of his previous dates. He is obnoxious but not as obnoxious as he makes himself out to be. Though it is very hard to feel sympathy for him, especially after he shows us how he will get out of a date with a mutt, which in his lingo is an ugly dog, by having someone he knows beep him so he can make an excuse to leave. This 54-year-old failed screenwriter and current security director prides himself on always acting as a gentleman, and makes no bones about the fact that he is a womanizer. He admits that he is his own worst enemy. All he wants in life is to take an attractive lady to bed.
This film might be upsetting to some, but it is a fresh look at an old problem (that darn ego!). Its aim is readily accomplished, as it offers an unorthodox study in human behavior.
REVIEWED ON 2/17/99 GRADE: B+