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Frank V. Ross
Anthony J. Baker,
Joe Swanberg has previously used the plot device of a woman torn between two competing romantic prospects in his shamefully weak 2007 film 'Hannah Takes The Stairs'. It's a theme that has been used in drama and literature for centuries, but 'Alexander The Last' provides a fresh perspective on the old double-backed beast, and also reveals an exponential growth in the director's film-making sophistication since his earlier project. The film opens with a pair of attractive sisters making vows of life-long loyalty to one another. One of them is Alex, a young married actress who has just been hired for a fringe drama production, while her musician husband prepares to depart on a tour. When the theater rehearsals commence, Alex becomes friendly with Jamie, an actor who is playing the part of her stage lover. Jamie is from out of town, so Alex invites him to sleep on the sofa at her apartment. Later, with ambivalent motives, she decides to hook him up with her sister, just as the two actors begin work on an intimate love-scene for their play. By the time her husband returns from his tour, Alex is completely disoriented, unable to separate her stage character's issues from her own.
Jess Weixler depicts Alex's inner turmoil with her customary sensitivity and skill, as this sympathetic young woman becomes increasingly confused by a heady cocktail of lust, jealousy and guilt. When her repressed conflict does flare up for a brief moment, its effect is shockingly intense due to the film's casually naturalistic style. Just as dramatic artifice had provoked his actress heroine's earlier bewilderment, Swanberg neatly utilizes the same method to resolve matters at the film's conclusion. It's a rewarding experience to see an artist mature before one's eyes - and 'Alexander The Last' leaves one eagerly anticipating Swanberg's next project.
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