Like any relationship, indie romantic comedy Peter and Vandy has its good and bad moments. For every scene of genuine interaction between Peter (Jason Ritter) and Vandy (Jess Weixler), there’s a snippet of dialogue that pegs it as a typical low-budget, dialogue-driven film. However, Jay DiPietro’s directorial debut gets credit for showing what usually happens after movie romances fade to black: the relationship between the two protagonists that isn’t always sweet or pretty.
Based on DiPietro’s play, Peter and Vandy skips back and forth in time between the break-ups, make-ups, first dates, and everyday life of twentysomething New Yorkers Peter and Vandy. The film isn’t shy about showing both the couple’s sweetest moments and their ugliest struggles. They marvel at the barb-filled marriage of friends Paul (Jesse L. Martin) and Marissa (Tracie Thoms), while their own relationship can be just as brutal. Though Peter and Vandy’s fighting occasionally turns nasty, there are truly affectionate interactions between them that reveal the root of their romance.
Peter and Vandy gets the unfortunate distinction of being released after the superior (500) Days of Summer. Both tell similar nonlinear tales of big-city couples, but DiPietro’s film lacks the style and sweetness of the earlier release. Where Peter and Vandy shines is the chemistry between the title characters. Ritter gives off the air of a Reality Bites-era Ethan Hawke, and he’s equally adept at portraying Peter in both romantic and attack modes. Weixler won praise -- and the Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Prize for Acting -- for her work in Teeth, and her Vandy is just as raw and effective a performance. Featuring Zak Orth, Bruce Altman, Martin, and Thoms, the supporting cast is exactly the high caliber of players that one expects when a small film is shot in New York City.
With its young cast, relatable story, and indie rock soundtrack, Peter and Vandy should appeal to fans of films such as 9 Songs, Flannel Pajamas, and Garden State. Music plays a primary role in the film, and its hipster-approved soundtrack features New York bands such as the National, Animal Collective, and Les Savy Fav, as well as Portland favorites Menomena. Though the film hews too close to the standard indie romance tropes (even including an admirable soundtrack), it still distinguishes itself by revealing a strikingly honest look at relationships that is rarely seen on film.
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- Released: 2008
- Rating: NR
- Review: Like any relationship, indie romantic comedy Peter and Vandy has its good and bad moments. For every scene of genuine interaction between Peter (Jason Ritter) and Vandy (Jess Weixler), there’s a snippet of dialogue that pegs it as a typical low-budget, dia… (more)