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 <email@example.com>
Director Gregg Araki introduced his new film recently at the 24th Toronto Internation Film Fest to a packed house and wetted our appetites with promises of a clever, modern homage to the great screwball comedies of the 1930's & 1940's. Films like: "It Happened One Night", "The Awful Truth", "The Lady Eve" and "Brining Up Baby".
The film is a departure from the man who brought us such films as: "Doom Generation" and "Totally F***ed Up". A kinder, gentler Araki was being shown.
The film follows the adventures of Veronica (Kathleen Robertson). A young woman who has had the misfortune to fall for two very different guys: the kind, intellectual Abel (Jonathan Schaech) and the rocker on eleven, Zed (Matt Keeslar). Instead of making her mind up about which one to date, she decides to try to convince them both to allow her to date them both. Things only get more complicated when both guys decide to move in with her.
The film does follow the basic outline of a screwball, but it lacks the heart of one. The actors all bring in admirable, yet unremarkable performances. However, this is not entirely their fault. Araki fails to deliver on the most basic element of the classic romantic comedy, the banter. The old films thrived on the perpetual motion of the dialogue to continuously engage the audience, with "Splendor" we just get a round of kinky Truth or Dare. Of course that brings up another subject, sex. This is 1999, and people have sex. They did in the 30's too. They just weren't allowed to show it or talk about it in the movies. The writers had to be resourseful, knowing just how far they could skate. I don't think it's prudish to expect the same for a modern incarnation. Again, this gets back to the dialogue. They had to skirt around the issue, but those writers always knew how to let the audience know without coming out and saying it or doing it.
Perhaps, I'm stuck in the past. But I think that if you set your sights and the audience's up that high, you had better be able to deliver the goods. Maybe if Araki had watched "The Awful Truth" (a film that he did an introduction to at the same festival the day after his film screened) before he made "Splendor", he and the audience would have been better off. He's still rather new at the game, and maybe his next film will be a little more like Sturges and a little less like a TV Sitcom.
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