Set in the working-class, non-trendy area of Chicago's near north side, "Pink Nights, '' despite its focus on high school romance angst, is in essence a look at Four Teens
(one guy, three girls) from dysfunctional families who bond together through the weird rituals of "dating.''
In this perceptive production, screenwriter-director Phillip Koch
's narrative focuses on the romantic woes of one shy guy named Danny (Kevin Anderson) who, despite not too shabby looks and a docile charm, can't buy a date. In short, girls don't notice him because he thinks they don't notice him.
Sex appeal is all in the head, his brassy sidekick-adviser Jeff (Larry King) harps. Jeff's from the school of dating that theorizes if you ask 100 girls out, one will, invariably, say yes.
In Danny's sad-sack case, this comes true: initially, through no efforts of his own. A clubbed-out punker (Shaun Allen) bets her girlfriends she can get a date with anybody, and Danny happens to be the Guy Standing
in her sites. As those in the entertainment business so keenly appreciate, appearance transcends reality, and Danny's reputation is quickly made by merely being in the presence of club hound Terry.
Unfortunately, in Koch's often droll story, the narrative itself is as lackadaisical as Jeff's dating initiatives. Suddenly, two more girls enter his life: an exotic-looking new girl at school (Peri Kaczmarek
) and a rich North Shore beauty (Jessica Vitkus
). He starts hanging out with all three, bumbling his way through a series of non-dates, much to the surprise and chagrin of his baffled best buddy.
While the story line is itself often bland and meandering, "Pink Nights, '' in its own soft, stumbling way, shows the naturalness of this nondescript guy's easy attraction to three widely different girls: All three of the girls are, essentially, alone -- their families are either traveling, bar-hopping, or motoring off to Detroit, and the time they spend in Danny's abode (mom's out of town on a weeklong date) becomes a family-like experience.
The performances in "Pink Nights'' are gold and silver, particularly Anderson as the soft-spoken, sincere teen and Kaczmarek as the estranged new girl in school.
Technical contributions in this decidedly low-budget production are highlighted by the sharp and scruffy soundtrack, featuring songs by Bohemia and several full-sounding Chicago-area bands.
A Koch-Marschall Production
Producers Phillip Koch
, Sally Marschall
Screenwriter-director Phillip Koch
Director of photography Charlie Leiberman
Original music score Jim Tullio, Jeffrey Vanston
Editors Phillip Koch
, Sally Marschall
Danny Kevin Anderson
Jeff Larry King
Esme Peri Kaczmarek
Terry Shaun Allen
Marcy Jessica Vitkus
Zero Jonathan Michaels
Running time -- 87 minutes
MPAA Rating: PG
(c) The Hollywood Reporter