20 February 2013 7:37 AM, PST | HollywoodChicago.com | See recent HollywoodChicago.com news »

Chicago – It’s taken quite a few movies for me to warm up to Chris Messina. Perhaps it wasn’t his fault that he kept getting typecast as oafish, self-absorbed jerks. In my review of Dana Adam Shapiro’s flawed Oscilloscope release, “Monogamy,” I confessed that every time Messina’s face showed up onscreen, I was “suddenly filled with the intense desire to punch it.”

It’s only been in the last year or so that I began to appreciate Messina’s fearlessness as a performer. He isn’t afraid to explore the dark terrain avoided by fellow actors more concerned with likability than truth. The same could be said of Zoe Kazan, whose debut feature script for the marvelous romance, “Ruby Sparks,” gave Messina his best role to date as a typically suave ladykiller blindsided by the all-too-perfect woman who entered the life of his hopelessly neurotic brother.

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- adam@hollywoodchicago.com (Adam Fendelman)

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