Easier with Practice (2009) Poster

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Only the lonely
susannah-straughan-13 December 2010
"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 Sean.

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.
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Twist ending rescues slow-paced narrative
Turfseer15 February 2010
Warning: 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' ending.

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 himself—how 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.
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Davy....You seem so unhappy........
arizona-philm-phan1 July 2011
Warning: 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!
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Definitely worth seeing!
keymasterx11 June 2009
Warning: 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.
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Two Lonely Souls Finding Each Other in the Night
evanston_dad23 November 2010
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 of?

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.

Grade: A
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Space Oddity
valis194928 April 2010
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
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So close, yet so far
dave-sturm4 May 2010
Warning: 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.
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Something new and a little different
runamokprods12 October 2012
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.
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Disappointing, but shows promise
itchyfriend95 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Walking out of this movie, I felt much the same as Davy, the protagonist, did at the end of the film. Just like him, I felt betrayed by something fraudulent, only in my case it was the movie itself I felt betrayed by. I actually thought this compelling drama was going somewhere. The director and his cinematographer have a surprisingly strong visual sense for a low-budget independent movie, especially in the opening scenes; and while some of the acting and dialogue felt a bit strained and "film schooly" now and then, there were some great moments and, for the most part, it was smart and sophisticated, with a genuinely winsome and sympathetic protagonist. I was wholly engaged and very interested in seeing where it would all lead.

The answer, unfortunately, was: nowhere. In the end, the film turned out to be merely another indie exercise in "wouldn't this story make a great movie?" screen writing. Except there is no story there, nor is there really an ending. It's all build-up with no payoff, and it ends up feeling like little more than an anecdote (and in fact the screenplay was apparently based upon a true story, so it really was just an anecdote). And the big reveal at the end was just a big cheat, completely and unapologetically phony and disingenuous. I felt snookered by this movie.

Still, the director definitely has talent, and so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with (hopefully) a better script.
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A very moving film
sandover1 September 2010
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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This Film Really Touches You......And Not Like That
glastris17 August 2011
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, Brian Geraghty can really act. His portrayal of the lead character was both controlled and believable. What could have been a caricature of the loner/nerd/intellectual was in fact a sympathetic portrait of a lonely man who is socially awkward. If you watch this, look for his facial expressions, they were spot on, and I'd assume, the most difficult part of the body to act with.

While the phone sex is part of the relationship between Danny and Nicole it takes a natural turn to friendship/relationship. Danny lets Nicole know that is what he wants, and she is trying to hold back, but obviously wants more as well.

The fact that he's a writer shows that he lives in his own head, to an extent. When he's confronted by a real chance of love/relationship/sex he fails and/or bails (the bar scene and his encounters with Samantha). He even, probably unknowingly states that when he tells the girl in the bar that life on the road isn't what it's all he'd hoped for (and then she sleeps with his brother instead). Boy reality really does bite, doesn't it? Finally, and here is where the spoilers come in, the final scenes do not need to be looked in a gay/straight way. To me it was about possible/impossible, fantasy/reality. I don't think Danny is gay or closeted, I think he's just had to realize that he fell in love with a woman who isn't and doesn't know what to do about it.....who would?
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Nice Indie Flick
ichocolat27 May 2010
Warning: 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.
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discobuf25 February 2010
As young, first time director, Kyle Patrick Alvarez, created quite a film, Easier with Practice, and is creating quite a stir. A passion of his since forever, was to direct and create movies. A lot of people do not know he is very musical also and brought great independent music to the film. He is very well read and a great writer. He really understands the entire process of movie making. Not every director has that gift. Everyone who worked with him on the film, have nothing but respect for Kyle Patrick. A 'true' Indie film made on a small budget. He casted the film perfectly. Although there is phone sex, the movie is really about an experience, a love story, a troubled soul. Based on a true story that was maybe 3 pages long, Kyle Patrick immediately knew upon reading it, he could make it into a full length movie. He is a Hollywood 'REFRESHER'! SOMEONE TO WATCH indeed.....
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Can I Those Two Hours Back, Please?
ExsistoSemper27 February 2010
Aside from some nice moments from its young ensemble, this movie is the film equivalent of a sloth. Slow, odd-looking, it never seems to find its pacing, and by the end I was left wondering if the theater offered refunds to dissatisfied film-goers. Perhaps worst of all was the film's predictability: The kitschy neo-folk indie soundtrack, the droll low-budget aesthetic of New Mexico, the denouement and "twist" reveal, everything was extremely predictable or familiar. No originality here, whatsoever.

Everything about this film felt laborious. Two hours of shifting in my chair left me exasperated and exhausted. That this film merits award nominations only shows how thin the field is these days. Boo.
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Instead of calling this review a spoiler, you will say "Thanks for saving me from wasting my time"
Tim Rogers27 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
You would have to lack common sense to call this a spoiler. How is something so preposterous (That a potential viewer who wants to be warned why it is such a waste of time) and is revealed on IMDb's cast list a "spoiler"? In fact anyone wanting to not waste their time should know this so called "Spoiler"; the movie is one of the rare ones whose entire rating hedges upon its end. If you did not read this "spoiler" then simply begin watching and then look at the credits. "Nicole" is voiced by a girl, as you would know watching the movie. And when it comes time to show you Nicole, you see one of the other cast members listed (Who everyone knows is not the other cast member). The script at this point gets this movie a 1/10 rating. HOW PREPOSTEROUS! The main character would not even have the common sense of any viewer? The main character would have known this is not the person on the phone just as the viewer does. This cannot be the person who was on the phone, any human aged 4 years old to senility would know it. But the main character doesn't? They could have improved the score of this movie to say 6/10 by simply using a transsexual or such with the same voice for the same character (Anyone see "Ticked Off Trannies With Knives"?) They should have cast one of them. They didn't. What a worthless movie, zero believability, zero probability, makes for zero anything.
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lead character problematic
SnoopyStyle16 January 2016
Writer Davy Mitchell takes his younger brother Sean on a road trip to promote his short stories collection. Davy gets a random phone call from a stranger named Nicole (voice Katie Aselton) in a motel. They get into a phone sex relationship. He meets Josie at a bar but he gets interrupted by Nicole and Sean brings Josie back to the motel room. Lonely introverted Davy begins a long distance relationship but Nicole refuses to give him her number. Sean teases him about it. Davy starts dating Sean and girlfriend Sarah's friend Samantha (Marguerite Moreau) after a party.

This has an interesting idea and a few interesting scenes. However even the good stuff is problematic. The lead character is so pathetic that it's hard to watch. Brian Geraghty is a good TV actor but this problematic lead has to be played by somebody with a ton of natural charisma. I'm thinking Paul Dano. Talking on a phone is not visually cinematic. Talking to Samantha is twice as interesting visually. The two-truths-and-a-lie game has great potential. Kel O'Neill really puts a big fat fastball down the middle of the plate. The movie needs Davy to hit it hard. It's a letdown moment. That should have been the turning point leading a big climax. Instead, it goes into an extended downhill slide and a final unsatisfying twist. Also Katie Aselton should not be Nicole.
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A dishonest and mean-spirited movie
jm1070129 August 2013
Warning: Spoilers
It's impossible to write a meaningful review of this movie without revealing the surprise ending. Anybody who leaves out the last 20 minutes is giving an unbalanced review that will leave many viewers feeling angry and betrayed if they see the movie based on that review. This is one of the three huge flaws in the movie, which I will elaborate below.



That's its first big flaw. This movie forces a conscientious reviewer to reveal the ending because it presents itself dishonestly as a gently romantic and sensitive character study when it's really a thriller. The ending betrays a viewer who has fallen under its sensitive, romantic spell with a shocking twist at the end. That is certainly a novel approach in movie-making, but it's also mean-spirited - almost as bad as secretly rewriting Winnie-the-Pooh so that it ends with Christopher Robin being gang-raped, but not warning parents before they read the book to their children.

This is as good a place as any to deal with the often-repeated excuse "But it's a true story!", because that's a lie. Even if the Davy Rothbart story the movie is based on is completely true (and there's good reason to doubt that), this movie distorts his story. (You can still read it on the GQ website, as I did; it's a badly-written and annoying story, by the way - hardly worth making into a movie.)

In the story, Davy had already suspected that "Nicole" might be a man, but he was having fun so he kept playing the phone-sex game. He was savvy and worldly, not at all the totally clueless, paralyzingly shy man the Davy in the movie is. It is unforgivable for the movie to create such a helpless, hopeless, rawly vulnerable character and then rip his slowly emerging, microscopic hopes to shreds the way this horrible movie does.

That's its second big flaw. It creates a preternaturally innocent, naive and vulnerable protagonist and then brutalizes him for entertainment.

The third, and to me the most unforgivable, flaw in this offensive movie is that the horror at the end of the tunnel is the fact that "Nicole" is really a gay man. Aaron is a man almost as shy and vulnerable as Davy is, but he's as unattractive as Davy is adorable. Davy is enormously appealing in his innocence and his sweet vulnerability - but Aaron is just a sleazy, lying, slimy creep.

Being gay is wonderful. I love it. I wouldn't be straight if you gave me a billion dollars. So having the monster who suddenly punches you in the gut at the end of a "heartwarming" movie be a gay man is deeply insulting. And then to have him be a creep, a pervert, a disgusting loser - in sharp contrast to Davy's charming, heartwarming (and straight!) loser - makes the insult even more appalling.

I cannot imagine what kind of person likes this movie. Certainly not any gay person; or any shy person, gay or straight; or anyone who cares about shy or gay people. The only audience I can imagine for this movie is severely abused women serving life sentences for murdering their abusers. They might be able to identify with the Davy this movie creates and then savages for entertainment by revealing that his secret love is a gay creep.

Don't blame it on Rothbart's story, as dumb and offensive as that story is; blame it on Alvarez's movie, which is far worse.
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