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Flirt Reviews

Even devoted fans of independent filmmaker Hal Hartley may find it hard to warm up to his latest effort, a stylistic experiment that takes one scenario and plays it out three times, in three different locales. It started life as a 30-minute short that's now the film's first segment, and a delight. Bill (Bill Sage) is a noncommittal New Yorker confronted by both an angry girlfriend (Parker Posey) and the suicidal husband (Martin Donovan) of the woman with whom he's been flirting. It's familiar Hartley terrain, deftly navigated. But as Hartley strays farther from home (apparently following the financing), the film begins to fall apart. The second episode, set in Berlin, replays essentially the same situation with a twist: Dwight (Dwight Ewell) is a gay African American, faced with two German boyfriends and one suicidal wife. The third replay, set in Tokyo and featuring the director as one piece of the romantic puzzle, represents a misguided attempt to emulate the subdued tones of classic Japanese film dramas. For Hartley, the third time is definitely not the charm.