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Duane Incarnate (2004)

Gwen, Connie, Fran, and Wanda are best friends, high on life. Well, not Wanda. She's the least beautiful one, with the least interesting personality, who's lost her job, and who's always ... See full summary »




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Crystal Bock ...
Lisa Terezakis ...


Gwen, Connie, Fran, and Wanda are best friends, high on life. Well, not Wanda. She's the least beautiful one, with the least interesting personality, who's lost her job, and who's always getting dumped by men. But then she meets Duane, the most wonderful man in the world, and he's madly in love with her. He's handsome, successful etc. The other girls don't get it. And then things get weird. Somehow, Duane's attraction to Wanda has thrown the whole world off-track. Can they end their friend's relationship with Mr. Wonderful before it's too late? Written by Martin Lewison <dr@martinlewison.com>

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3 May 2004 (USA)  »

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Is He Really Going Out With Her?
11 May 2004 | by See all my reviews

"Duane Incarnate" is a charming and humorous use of magic realism in New York City to explore relationships, recalling the sweet "Happy Accidents."

Because it focuses on four women friends, it is inevitable that the film will be pegged to "Sex and the City" (the word of mouth on line at the Tribeca Film Festival was it was that "for the beer-drinking set"), but it is much more humanistic and sympathetic about relationships than that series' male-written scripts.

Writer/director Hal Salwen explained his inspiration in the Q & A after the screening that it will always be an utterly baffling mystery as to what it is that attracts people to each other and keeps them together, a chemistry that people outside the relationship can never fully understand. If he could afford the rights and switch the gender, a play on Joe Jackson's "Is She Really Going Out With Him?" would be a good theme song.

Salwen has a particularly good ear for realistic girl talk. The whole ensemble is excellent at comically playing off each other, though only two of the actresses are immediately recognizable, for their sit com work, Kristen Johnston of "Third Rock from the Sun" and Cynthia Watros of "Titus."

While their guys are buffooned, it is done playfully and the exaggerations are fantasized. Salwen said he originally had the genders switched and it probably would not have been as amusing to stereotype the women.

I particularly enjoyed that the finale has a more open-ended explanation than the not dissimilar doings of "A Midsummer Night's Dream."

The New York City interiors and exteriors are used very well to establish each couple's environment (the woman behind me on line at the Festival owned the downtown loft that is a main locale), if lit a bit darkly, and it was the best use of an old stairwell in a walk-up apartment I've seen other than "Pieces of April." They even got the New York Film Office to let them bring a car into Central Park.

Salwen said he walked the film cans over to the Festival in time for qualifying for inclusion and that it didn't have distribution yet. Such a delightful movie certainly deserves and should be able to find an audience if given the chance.

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