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In/Significant Others
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by Jay Seaver

"More interesting than its punctuation."
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 BOSTON FILM FESTIVAL: "In/Significant Others" is the very definition of an average movie. No moment raises a flag - well, okay, some do, but they may be among the film's most interesting, at least in hindsight. No actors perform poorly. No scene seems to go on too long. And nothing ever catches fire to excite us.

And, really, something should. Writer/director John Schwert starts tossing his various intersecting plot-lines at us early: We've got Greg Rizzo (Mark Scarboro) trying his hand at stand-up comedy, trying to equal the success of his brother Jack (Brian Lafontaine). Greg left a steady job to do that, which is not making things easier for his wife Leslie (Ashlee Payne) and sick baby. We've barely had a chance to meet Iraq war vet Bruce Snow (Burgess Jenkins) before he's shot and killed a man, who had supposedly attacked his wife Salem (Tiffany Montgomery). It turns out, though, that it was Christina Ludum (Andrea Powell) - the woman Salem had been seeing while Bruce was away - who had a problem with him. Of course, Salem and Christina meet in the café where Jack's fiancée's sister (who, naturally, has addiction problems) works.

Just in case the film didn't seem to be covering all of its indie-drama bases, we spend some time seeing the characters interviewed documentary-style, which is at least sort of interesting because the person doing the interviews is terrible at his job. At first this seems like a strike against the film, until we get through a couple and realize that the interviewer (Brett Gentile) and his sound guy (Scott Miles) are going to be actual characters in the film. It's not pulled off perfectly - they aren't given the same depth as the other characters, but still get involved in the plot. Still, there were a couple of moments where I figured that these guys were the film's most original creations, and that there's an entertaining movie to be made about a guy who wants to be a documentary filmmaker but simply cannot form any sort of rapport with his subject.

The filmmakers form one of the main ties between the various stories, and it is honestly a very contrived way to bring the two stories together. Take the filmmakers away, and what's going on with the Snows and what's going on with the Rizzos connect only in the most tangential way. The themes of the two halves don't exactly complement each other, either: The story with Bruce, Salem, and Christina is a crime story built on guilt and manipulation, while Greg, Jack, Leslie, Susan, and Joanne are a story of family bonds and obligation. It feels more like two movies that happen to take place in Charlotte and have been edited together than a single film with multiple main characters.

If the film was split in two, each would have a pretty good cast. Brugess Jenkins is the standout; he presents Bruce to us without a great deal of outward torment, but also manages to keep us from seeing him as a sociopath or the villain of the film. Relative newcomer Tiffany Montgomery is similarly impressive as Salem; her frailty is evident despite the lack of hysterics. LaFontaine and Scarboro are very good as well, catching the vibe of brothers who know each other all too well perfectly. Lafontaine, especially, does a fine job of not shying away from the things that may make his character difficult to like.

Watch enough movies, and you'll see a lot that have quite a bit in common with "In/Significant Others". Some are better, though many more aren't as good. Schwert and company manage to come up with some memorable characters and moments, which puts them ahead of the pack.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=19802&reviewer=371
originally posted: 09/29/09 15:51:43
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Boston Film Festival For more in the 2009 Boston Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/29/09 C.L.F. Deep, dark and well acted. 4 stars
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  DVD: 23-Nov-2010



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