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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's hard to classify 'Easier with Practice'. The film fits rather
perfectly into the overall 'indie' category but beyond that, it's more
an amalgam of genres. 'Practice' is a bit of a buddy picture as the two
main characters are brothers who go on the road for over half of the
film's screen time. But it's also a mystery, with a welcome 'twist'
Davy Mitchell (Brian Geraghty) has gone on the road to publicize his unpublished collection of short stories at various bookstores and college campuses around the country. Accompanying him is his brother, Sean, who's chief goal during this trip is to pick up girls. One night at their motel room, while Sean is outside, Davy gets a random phone call from a woman with a sexy voice who identifies herself as 'Nicole'; they immediately start having phone sex together, with a long-winded scene of Davy masturbating as Nicole arouses him.
The phone sex continues throughout Davy's book tour but the aspiring writer begins having more extended conversations with Nicole and he soon finds himself falling in love with her. Nicole refuses, however, to give Davy her own number so he must always wait for her call. Meanwhile, Sean eventually finds out about the mysterious caller and mocks his brother for his obsession.
The two finally return home where we learn that Davy supports himself as a temp worker but right now can't find employment. Sean and his girlfriend invite Davy over to a party where he runs into Samantha, a woman who he had a brief fling with some time ago. Davy begins dating Samantha after Nicole stops calling him. Apparently, Nicole would not give in to Davy's demand to see him in person. After Davy doesn't hear from Nicole for weeks he becomes depressed and realizes that he has no desire to reciprocate Samantha's affection.
Finally, Nicole calls back and they agree to meet. Davy purchases a plane ticket and flies to the city where Nicole lives. She initially cancels a dinner date but then agrees to see Davy the next day at a chain restaurant in the afternoon. I won't give away the surprise ending but Nicole doesn't turn out to be who Davy thinks she is.
'Easier with Practice' is a very slow-paced film. The many scenes where Davy is on the phone with Nicole are static from a visual standpoint. Nonetheless, first time writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez manages to convey the loneliness of the depressed writer through a series of evocative visual images throughout the film.
Alvarez does a fine job in directing the actors who give, low-key understated performances. A little more could have been done with brother Sean as he seems a bit of a one-note character, mainly expressing contempt for his brother who has an inability to form decent relationships. I also wanted to know more about how Davy supported himselfhow was he able to finance his 'book tour' and later pay for his plane ticket (did he have savings?).
Davy's internal character arc never develops much at all. At the film's denouement, there is a hint that he has grown from his experience but we're uncertain where he is headed in the future. Still, it's the mystery of the mystery caller's identity which we're curious about and the film pays off handsomely with a surprise, twist ending. If you're willing to put up with the slow-paced narrative, you will be rewarded with a neat surprise at the film's end.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
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? 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.
'Easier With Practice' is a wonderful little film written and directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, based on a GQ article by Davy Rothbart. Brian Geraghty plays Davy Mitchell, a writer who works as a temp to pay the bills. Davy and his brother Sean (Kel O'Neill) set out on a book tour across the country together in Sean's old POS station wagon to promote Davy's book. During their journey from town to town, Sean spends his free time in the bars and picking up chicks while Davy, exhausted from the weeks of traveling and living off of PB&J sandwiches, spends most of his free time in hotel rooms, bored and lonely.
Kyle Patrick Alvarez is said to be quite the indie music enthusiast and it shows, having meticulously selected and placed an absolutely perfect soundtrack into his film. The songs were carefully chosen and used not just to fill silent space, but to accentuate a scene or emotion and further move the story along in a constructive fashion. The soundtrack to 'Easier With Practice' reads like a pop fans worst nightmare, featuring indie musicians and bands unknown to many like Emily Easterly, Source Victoria, Deer Tick and Grizzly Bear, not to mention the other 10 or more bands with licenced music featured on the theatrical playlist.
This is a film definitely worth seeing. It's smart, just funny enough as not to get in the way of the great story and the twist at the end packs a punch.
"What are you wearing?" A late-night call to his motel room brings
writer Davy Mitchell (Brian Geraghty) an unexpected introduction to the
mysterious "Nicole" (Kathryn Aselton), who likes to seduce guys over
the phone. Before long, Davy's dull book tour of New Mexico has been
transformed into an onanistic odyssey that shocks even his brother
I shudder to think about the prurient comedy that could have resulted from this set-up if Judd Apatow or the American Pie team had got their sticky fingers on it. Fortunately, Davy Rothbart's GQ article "What Are You Wearing?", has been adapted by writer/director Kyle Patrick Alvarez into a low-key but surprisingly affecting drama about loneliness and the yawning gap between romantic expectations and real life.
The opening credits feature a montage of images from the covers of those dime store romantic novels that feature big-shouldered heroes ravishing big-breasted ladies with huge red lips. It turns out that Davy keeps one of these books in the car that he and brother Sean (Kel O'Neill) have been sharing during their extended road trip. A brief reading from this torrid romance suggests that Sean has a rather more earthy approach to relations with the opposite sex than his elder brother does.
The film begins in a bookshop with the earnest, bespectacled Davy giving a reading from his collection of short stories, Things People Do To Each Other. When the brothers check into yet another nondescript motel in Albuquerque, Sean goes out to buy cigarettes and Davy settles in for an evening of channel surfing. Moments later the phone rings and Nicole enters his room. Of course she's not actually in the room -- it just feels like it to the audience and especially the flustered Davy. At first he thinks it's a mistake or Sean playing a prank. After all, why would an alluring young woman be calling him out of the blue? In the 10-minute scene that ensues the camera doesn't move from the figure of Davy sitting on his bed cradling the receiver. Soon she's telling him what she's wearing (nothing as it turns out) and encouraging him to lose his inhibitions and engage in the kind of explicit chat that you normally find on premium rate numbers.
It's early in the story so we don't know much about Davy, but the way this conversation plays out is more psychologically than sexually revealing. Alvarez isn't interested in showing us his awkward fumblings. From his expressions and rather stilted responses we gather that 28-year-old Davy doesn't have much imagination or confidence when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex.
This riveting sequence is pretty much guaranteed to leave audiences shaken, stirred and full of questions about who Nicole is and whether this movie is going to have a nasty sting in the tail. After all, in the horror and thriller genres, getting dragged into a phone conversation with a stranger tends not to be a recipe for long life and happiness. Think of Drew Barrymore's quiz ordeal in Scream or Colin Farrell's Phone Booth nightmare and you'll get my point.
The first half of Easier with Practice plays out like a road movie, as the brothers move through a succession of bookshops, motels, cafés and bars. There's a comic feel to Davy's attempts to conceal his ongoing relationship from his sceptical brother, who reminds him "She could be an obese middle-aged woman with a thousand cats." But overall what Alvarez really captures is a feeling of romantic yearning on Davy's part, as he tries to get Nicole to open up about herself: "Can't we talk a little bit?" he pleads during one of their late-night chats.
Having opened his hero up to the possibility of intimacy, Alvarez brings him back down to earth as the book tour ends. Back home in his poky bachelor apartment festooned with Post-It notes, Davy is just another loser with an unfulfilling temp job. Except now he believes that in Nicole he's found someone who really gets him and that they might eventually meet up.
Socially awkward and sexually gauche men provide great material for comedy -- especially when they fall into the embrace of rapacious women. But this film doesn't take that approach, though there are some painfully funny moments during Davy's conversations with Nicole. Geraghty's skill lies in making Davy sympathetic and believable as he blunders through a meeting with the attractive Samantha (Marguerite Moreau), with whom he's had some kind of failed tryst. As with the young student who tried to chat him up in a bar during the trip, we see a man who wears his reticence like a badge of honour. He's disapproving of the way his brother casually cheats on his girlfriend, though you sense there might be some envy, too.
As Davy struggles to reconcile the reality of his relations with women with the fantasy that is Nicole, the film moves towards a climax that is in keeping with what's gone before, but doesn't neatly resolve the hero's problems. To say any more about the plot might spoil what is an emotionally resonant and well-acted drama.
Brian Geraghty, whose geeky look here is reminiscent of the young Harrison Ford, was previously in The Hurt Locker and Jarhead. This is a role that takes him and the audience on an emotional journey, though in many scenes he's alone -- just staring into the abyss. It's a great performance and one that is beautifully framed by Alvarez and cinematographer David Morrison, who have woven an air of romance around banal locations like parking lots, laundromats and motel rooms.
Easier with Practice is an impressive debut from Alvarez that deserves to find an appreciative audience. I just hope that its thoughtful approach to issues of sexual identity and isolation won't go over the heads of film fans weaned on a diet of stoner dude comedies about idiots with overactive libidos.
Who would have thought that one of the performances of the year would
be found in this obscure little indie that practically no one has heard
Brian Geraghty, who had a small role in last year's "The Hurt Locker," plays Davy Mitchell, a struggling writer with an almost pathological case of social awkwardness. On a book tour through the middle of nowhere to promote a collection of short stories, he receives a random call from Nicole, a horny girl with a nice voice and a penchant for phone sex. Davy finds the fantasy girl on the other end of the line much easier to talk to than any of the real-live articles he comes across, and decides at the end to arrange a meeting with Nicole in person to see if the reality can match his expectations.
"Easier with Practice" is a fantastic movie with a very rich ending. There's a somewhat major plot twist, but the film doesn't build itself up around it, and the ending isn't so much about what happens between Davy and Nicole as about what happens to Davy. He learns some things about himself -- namely, that he's not the only lonely soul out there -- and we learn some things about him -- namely, that he's a kind and caring individual with the ability to handle complex emotions without taking his personal insecurities out on others.
The final scene between Davy and Nicole is one of the best acted scenes I've seen in a movie this year.
EASIER WITH PRACTICE is a well-written, low budget Indpendent film which is ostensibly about 'Phone Sex', but really explores the themes of Alienation and Loneliness. Brian Geraghty, who starred in THE HURT LOCKER, plays a scruffy young author on a book tour to promote a collection of short stories. He and his 'tour manager' brother are on the road in a beat up station wagon, and trek from one tiny, low-rent book store to another. Mysteriously, one night at a cheesy budget motel, he gets a random call from a girl who wants to engage in phone sex. After numerous such encounters over the course of many weeks, he begins to feel a much stronger connection to this enigmatic and enticing individual. Although he has numerous opportunities to meet women face-to-face, they don't seem to compare to the strong allure of the voice on the other end of the line. Although the film hinges on a Trick Ending, it is well crafted, and cleverly resists tying up every loose end. The film is shot in and around the picturesque city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and has taken several honors at various film festivals. This one is well worth a look
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
(( "Davy" is a character who can be considered as one with deeply
intertwined emotional / behavioral problems ))
Whether this movie's background is just story writer, Rothbart's own....or part his life / part fiction....or just a tale made up for a fictional Davy, is not the important thing here. Instead, what we need to focus on is that the lead we are given in this film unquestionably comes across as having had much more than usual problems in relating to females. Specifically, females with whom he has attempted to become more than just friends. With all other people in his life, Davy seems a likable sort....that is when, or if, they even realize he is around (he often seems "overlooked").
I truly believe that what this film shows us, intentionally or not, is that Davy is way more unhappy than we see on the surface.....and will likely always be unhappy. Why? Because he is trying to live up to the "norms" which society is forever instilling in us. But, what Davy (and all of us) need to discover is that when we have met a person who has grown all-important to us, a someone we have come to love and want to spend our future with.....THEN, such things as our color...our sex...and other factors should not be deciding ones. If we BOTH want this THING.....then that is the way it should be. Take a chance.
At film's end Davy chose, either from fear or lack of desire, NOT to take that step. Or did he....after that fading scene? Was there....should there have been....a later chapter for Davy?
PS--Oh, Davy, take a chance.....See if it will make you happy!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Davey is a lonely, 28-year-old socially inept "writer" trying to peddle
his self-published book of short stories by criss-crossing New Mexico
in a beat-up old station wagon with a mattress in the back and doing
readings at independent book stories to audiences of about five people.
His loutish younger brother is along for the ride and the chance to
snare drunk chicks who think the boys are the reincarnation of Jack
Kerouac and Neal Cassady.
One night, when Davey is alone in their cheap motel room, the phone rings. One the other end is the sexy voice of Nicole, who says she is bored and wants to have phone sex with a dude. Any dude. Davey obliges. Thus is launched a relationship that has Davey totally spellbound. It's not all about sex. They share secrets, confide, console, etc. But only over the phone. He thinks they are soulmates. She insists on keeping her identify secret. Davey is desperate to meet her. His brother mocks him.
This debut offering from writer-director Kyle Patrick Alvarez casts Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker) as Davey. He spends the whole movie in a state of confusion and yearning. He's a putz and knows it. But maybe there's hope. A lifeline has been tossed to him, but from whom?
When the cat is deftly pulled out of the bag, you might fear Alvarez is going to go somewhere stupid with this. He doesn't. It plays out as it should. And, as with most good endings, a few additional possible scenes play out in your head.
I look forward to seeing what young Alvarez does next.
While far from a perfect film, this is a welcome reminder of why indie
film-making is so important. This is a story you haven't seen before,
told in a bold and honest way, and willing to deal with complex
emotions and no answers.
It all starts when a shy, introverted writer on a pathetic book tour(accompanied by his brother) gets what seems to be a wrong number a call from a sexy sounding strange woman that morphs into hot phone sex (all in one long multi minute take).
The odd development of this intense and mysterious ongoing phone relationship, and how it effects Davy's lonely life makes up the rest of the story, often going in delightfully or disturbingly unexpected directions (which I won't spoil here).
There are some real weak spots. Some of the actors aren't quite up to the sophisticated subtlety of what Averez is going after. No one is 'bad' but great actors in certain choice roles could have brought out much more. There also a cinematic cheat that is so obvious, and so central to the story that it really alienated me at a key moment. But I'm still glad I saw the film, and I find it resonating with me the next day.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is a nice indie film, doing away from the filmfare nowadays that
are so familiar & predictable. The idea is original, the execution is
not bad, the ending is witty, and overall a good film. Especially if
one is into indie flicks.
This film is a bout a guy who receives a phone call from a lady, in which the conversation grew from something innocent and ended with phone sex. And since the lady is calling from a private number, the guy is forced to wait for the call, in which he have expected to receive.
Surprisingly, the girl called back. And one phone conversation after another, the 'relationship' grew into something much more.
The guy travel with her brother to meet the lady, to put a face on the mysterious caller identity.
I like the concept. And the fact that this film makes one watch until the end to know how this type of relationship progresses and whether the is a future for this kind of relationship.
A nice 7 stars for this film.
Davy, a twenty-eight year old white male author is on a road trip with
his brother to promote his collection of short stories, when one night,
in a motel, he gets a random phone call for sex and embarks on a series
of phone call encounters with a voice called Nicole. Inexperienced,
pronouncing quite often the word "embarassing", he seems unable to find
his way with embodied, to put it that way, women. The phone calls
persist, one way always, then cease after Davy gets furious about the
unreal premise of such a "relationship." Things, days drag, until weeks
later Nicole calls back, and they finally arrange a revelatory meeting.
With a cinematic vocabulary proper for indie rock videos, and with a deceptively minimal approach, Alvarez may lure us into believing his film mode fits, even converts the story into a Raymond Carver one. There may be the random, fleeting and nostalgic empathy his stories exemplify, but here this roots into fully fledged individualization in the final confrontation.
Aided with a sensitive cast and armed with Brian Geraghty's most tender and haunted and Eugene Byrd's rustling, miraculous performance, the film from indie isolation and generic alienation transforms masculine identity's vulnerability and sense of precarious confrontation into poignant human recognition. The final scene, impossibly delicate and difficult to handle, preserving a sense of secrecy that signifies shared affect, is an instant classic. A very moving, delightful film.
(The opening credits are also pleasurable: tactile, from the snap-shot rhythm accompanying the soundtrack to the traveling of the camera revealing fragments of pulp fiction covers, as if tenderly mocking the human erotic interest, they are the most meaningful opening credits I have seen since Croneberg's "Spider" Rorschach opening.)
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