An average, calm mid-20s girl named Veronica restarts her dead dating life all of the sudden, but with two guys: a sensitive failed writer named Abel and an airheaded drummer named Zed. At ... See full summary »
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Splendor is the name of an old movie theater managed by Jordan (Mastroianni), who inherited it from his father. The theater is in decay and only generates debts and trouble, but Jordan gets... See full summary »
An average, calm mid-20s girl named Veronica restarts her dead dating life all of the sudden, but with two guys: a sensitive failed writer named Abel and an airheaded drummer named Zed. At first she despairs. Then she finds a way to date both without their finding out. Then she tells both about it. Then Abel and Zed meet each other, and, after much initial conflict, they wind up living together and evolve into a very odd yet happy threesome. However, as time goes by Veronica starts growing apart from them, while Abel and Zed become brother-like (and kid-like). So when a director starts courting a pregnant Veronica, strains ensue. Will Abel and Zed be able to grow up and save the day?... Written by
Parca Mortem <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I was not conscious of "Splendor" being a Gregg Araki film when I started watching it but after the first two sequences I was thinking: "this is great directing-who did this"? While the technique screams "Araki", as does the casting of Kathleen Robertson, the narrative is so conventional that you find the combination hard to reconcile. I loved an earlier comment that "Splendor" is like a John Hughes remake of "The Doom Generation"; i.e. very conventional and without the sex and violence, with a three-way relationship (two males-one female), Johnathon Schaech, and Director Araki's absolutely amazing production and post-production skills-along with his less than dazzling scripting.
Although Araki is paying homage to the great screwball comedies of the 1930's: "Topper", "It Happened One Night", "The Awful Truth", and "Bringing Up Baby"; the style and substance of "Splendor" is closer to Mike Nichols' "The Graduate" (not to mention an amusing parody of the "Graduate's" climatic wedding scene).
Kathleen Robertson has the Rose McGowen part in this version of "The Doom Generation" and is generally well suited to the role. I have not decided yet if Robertson is in McGowen's class as an actress, or in the class of her fellow Canadians Mia Kirshner and Sarah Polley. Robertson was excellent in "Maniac Mansion" and "Beverly Hills 90210", but these were similar roles that appear to mirror her own cool and detached personality. One thing that is clear is that she was a great choice for Ariki's trademark close-ups. Anyone perceptive enough to close the camera to face distance when shooting McGowen, Robertson, and most recently Michelle Trachtenberg has a eye for breathtakingly beautiful visuals.
The premise does not really have enough substance to sustain a feature although it might work as a half-hour television sit-com (see "Three's Company"). When the premise becomes tired the story brings in a new character, Eric Mabious; and the film self-destructs, killing time until a decent ending sequence. A tip-off that a screen writer has limited life experience to draw from is having cast and crew occupations for the characters. Robertson's character is an aspiring actress and Mabious is directing her in a made-for-television drama. His character is so hopelessly one-dimensional and painfully pathetic that I was convinced that he had a sinister side (what was with those blue contact lenses) that would eventually manifest itself. But this does not happen, maybe Araki had something interesting in mind and abandoned it in re-write. Mabious becomes a non-factor (see totally irrelevancy) and his scenes were simply inserted as padding to get this thing up to feature length.
The bottom line is that Araki fans will be a little disappointed with "Splendor". It is very conventional, it isn't much of a story, and the good banter is limited (although Kelly MacDonald has fantastic dialogue in all her scenes) . But if your Araki appreciation is more for his directorial talents (casting, mise en scene details, camera movement and placement) and his post-production originality, you will find "Splendor" measures up very well to his prior work. The morning after scene early in the film simply blows away anything similar from any director.
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