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Easier with Practice
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by Erik Childress

"You Can Look Inside Another World...You Get To Talk To A Pretty Girl"
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2009 CINEVEGAS FILM FESTIVAL: Long distance relationships don’t get explored as often as they should in the movies. Such spacing between couples is often utilized as a third-act time killer. Time (apart) heals all wounds and everything. Technology has advanced to a point where we can carry on a conversation every minute of the day, never seeing the person but perhaps taking comfort in knowing they are out there thinking of you. Kyle Patrick Alvarez’s Easier With Practice doesn’t hunker down to examine a traditional interstate affair. Nothing to do with work keeping the pair apart or fate butting in to throw a little force majeure into their happiness. In this case, the couple in question haven’t even met. No stalking involved or unfulfilled crushes, Easier With Practice deals with the uncertainty over the voices we hear around us as well as within and forces its protagonist to face the needs he never knew he had.

Davy Mitchell (Brian Geraghty) is on the road doing readings at small book stores (one of them is named just “Books”) of his short stories collection. Tagging along is his younger brother, Sean (Kel O’Neill), who has no problem picking up on Davy’s leftovers whether it be pie or the girls he doesn’t close the deal with, despite the girlfriend he has back home. One night in a motel room alone though, the phone rings and a sexy voice on the other end coaxes Davy (none too hard) into phone sex, presented in one extended shot. With no means to call back this Nicole on her private number, Davy is forced into a waiting game. Surprisingly though she calls back. And often. Intimate nights become intimacy as the pair open up to one another; Nicole (phone-cheating on her own boyfriend) is happy just to have a guy who listens. As Davy gets closer to home though the more he wants the other senses to manifest in their relationship, starting with just seeing each other. But Nicole prefers things the way they are. What’s a guy to do?

Most guys would probably love the idea of guilt-free phone sex, especially without the dicey credit card charges. No complications. No gifts or fancy dates. It’s the perfect therapy even if they never want to admit the personal details to anyone but their faceless seducer. Scraping the shallowest end of the male gene pool though, those guys would probably still miss the sense of touch that comes with having a partner, even if their other senses don’t work. Davy might be introverted to a fault, but all those guards he has up eventually are going to press down and force out a few feelings. Seeing Nicole is not about the superficiality of a magazine or romance novel cover. He just wants to know that someone of the opposite sex wants to see him for more than just the comfort he can provide. Guys being not the exclusive species turned off by a less than pleasing physique.

One of the reasons we root for Davy to reconnect with Samantha (Marguerite Moreau), a girl he once asked out, is because she is the reality and not the fantasy. Sure, she’s aesthetically pleasing, but also very upfront about her feelings for Davy. Moreau plays her scenes beautifully, realizing she needs not to be competition but a suitable (and necessary) replacement for Nicole whom we’ve seen Davy pour his heart out to. We feel instantly that she’s the right match for Davy now and hope that he will feel the same. Brian Geraghty is a face you may remember seeing in films like Jarhead, We Are Marshall and hopefully will in Kathryn Bigelow’s excellent Iraq war thriller, The Hurt Locker. As Davy though, Geraghty really breaks through with a quietly, heartbreaking portrayal of a shy guy unsure of the direction his life is supposed to be taking. With little success as a writer and only a few ladies under his stud belt, it’s easy to accept Nicole as that once-in-a-lifetime gift so we feel his anguish in not being able to at least get that hug we know he needs.

Davy’s insecurities are enough to turn Easier With Practice into a subtle thriller where the wrong move can lose or gain him everything. It’s the balance that writer/director Alvarez has to confront in every scene. Not making Davy too emotionally indecisive so we become impatient with him. There is genuine tension in what we want to know about Nicole. Who she is or what she might look like (if we ever see her – or maybe we have already) is more than just a gimmicky way to bring closure for Davy. The more the suggestion of a meeting comes closer to fruition, we wonder if this is just going to be one of those unsolved mysteries with Davy left all alone in a manner recently seen in Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience. Davy’s experience never plays out precisely as you would expect and I, for one, guessed wrong just about every time right up to the poignant, perfectly-acted finale that does provide some closure while opening up a whole new set of life questions. Based on the article, “What Are You Wearing?” (written for GQ by Found magazine founder Davy Rothbart), Alvarez wisely doesn’t hand us all the answers by the fadeout and we’re all a little wiser because of it. Like its title, Easier With Practice takes on new meaning with each passing act; a little like life itself.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=18570&reviewer=198
originally posted: 06/10/09 00:00:00
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 CineVegas Film Festival For more in the 2009 CineVegas Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival For more in the 2009 Edinburgh International Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

3/19/14 Gary A movie where the ending relies on deliberate deception of the movie audience 1 stars
3/19/14 sam Cautionary tale of virtual romance for most. 3 stars
2/16/10 Alex Deep 5 stars
2/01/10 mary paswela mediocre and rather tedious writing and performances 2 stars
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  DVD: 06-Apr-2010



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