Easier with Practice – Movie Review

Do not have a relationship over the phone unless you know the person at the other end. You never do

First time director Kyle Patrick Alvarez tries to capitalize on Brian Geraghty’s exposure from the indie megahit “The Hurt Locker” in this psycho-portrait of a young man finding himself. Geraghty plays aspiring writer Davy Mitchell, a smart guy with a severe attachment problem. Mitchell is a nerd’s nerd who apparently has a hard time figuring out what girls are all about. One night he gets a call from a woman who sounds like someone selling phone sex. Only she’s not selling phone sex she is giving it away free and Davy is the lucky winner.

Fifteen minutes into the first call Davy figures out what it is all about but the relationship takes a strange turn. OK, it’s not such a strange turn. Davy falls in love with the phone sex girl. If he didn’t fall in love where would the film be?

The best part of Alvarez’ screenplay and Davy Rothbart’s story is that Davy falls hard for the mystery girl on the phone. He falls so hard that he loses track of what is real and what is imaginary in the most personal of relationships. The viewer is taken on a psychological journey along Davy’s trajectory as he comes to terms with what is real and what is imaginary.

The moral of the story has to do with real love vs. romantic love. Real love is the closet of friendships and romantic love is a relationship with a fairy tale vision of life in heaven. Realizing the difference between the two is a pivotal milestone during the process we call “growing up.” This is a film of a young man growing up.

Davy is accompanied on his road trip by brother Sean, played by Kel O’Neill (“Redacted” and “Winter Solstice”). O’Neill threatens to steal the show by providing a more entertaining acting performance than lead Geraghty but that isn’t hard to do considering Geraghty plays an emotional cripple. The story contrasts Sean’s real relationship with his girlfriend to the imaginary relationship of his brother. His brother’s relationship is slightly flawed but nonetheless real. The point is that a real, flawed love is better than an imagined perfect one. The ending is good, with a nice twist that drives home the point while adding an unforeseen dimension to the plot.

The setting for the film is New Mexico, apparently the Albuquerque area and it works well considering the vacuous nature of Davy’s mental state. The visas are broad and stark and form the perfect blank palette on which to paint Davy’s writhings and churnings as he comes to grip with love.

The soundtrack is very indie rock and fun to listen to. The closing number is particularly upbeat.

This film is a very independent effort that appears to have been done on an ultra-low budget by some very motivated first time filmmakers. It will be appreciated for those qualities by people who are young enough to share the bald unvarnished bumbling of the young adults in the film but it will not appeal to a broad audience of more experienced filmgoers. The characters in the film are minimalist almost to the point of being two dimensional (with the main character Davy being the only possible exception).

Fresh perspectives are valuable in the film industry and films like this are a vital part of the fabric of filmmaking but most viewers will not consider this entertainment in the conventional sense. At best it is a lecture on the psychology of love and growing up. At worst it is a college level experiment in filmmaking and the people in the audience are the guinea pigs.

Directed by: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Written by: Kyle Patrick Alvarez (screenplay) and Davy Rothbart (story)

Release: February 26, 2010
MPAA: Rated NC-17 for a sequence of explicit sexual dialogue
Runtime: 100 minutes
Country: USA
Language: English
Color: Color