First-time writer-director-producer-editor Matt Zoller Seitz, one of a handful of professional film critics (for New York Press) to step up and actually make a feature film, wisely attended the old admonition to stick with what you know: Not only does his ensemble drama unfold over the course of an all-night party crawling with endlessly articulate New York musicians, novelists and artists in their late twenties and early thirties, but the action takes place in his own Brooklyn townhouse. Struggling playwright Bobby (Jason Liebrecht) arrives early, but his connection to the festivities is vague — one of his first moves is to mistake shy freelance film editor Susan (Nicol Zanzarella) for her zaftig roommate and co-hostess, Rose (Erin S. Visslailli). In fact, Bobby doesn't know anyone at the party except his ex-girlfriend, Harper (Minerva Scelza), who didn't invite him and doesn't share his interest in renewing, revisiting or rehashing their relationship. She's set her sights on boorish Tommy (Stephen T. Neave), a thoroughly obnoxious salesman who monopolizes every conversation with tales of his globetrotting adventures, and Tommy seems to be responding, much to Rose's evident dismay. Longtime couple Annie and Josh (Jennifer Larkin, Bradley Spinelli) arrive at the party in low-key squabble mode, which soon escalates to full-blown public relationship meltdown. Bobby and Susan begin to forge a promising connection, only to have her ex-boyfriend — intense, exotic writer Tomasz (Pavol Liska) — show up unexpectedly and throw a spanner in the works. As the night goes on and the guests squeeze in, liquor flows, inhibitions are shed, and the stage is set for the kind of fireworks that continue to fuel "can you believe… conversations long after the last snack crumbs have been vacuumed out of the sofa cushions. The bad news is that Seitz's protagonists are almost all insufferable: Smug, self-important, opinionated and relentlessly convinced that they're far more sensitive, intelligent and interesting than they are. But he makes effective, low-key use of his constantly roaming camera, eavesdropping on first one guest and then another, lingering just long enough to catch a telling remark that will pay off later and then moving on. Watching their petty dramas unfold is remarkably like being a fly on the wall at a get-together that goes on too long but yields a couple of priceless anecdotes that make the experience seem worthwhile — at least in the retelling.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: First-time writer-director-producer-editor Matt Zoller Seitz, one of a handful of professional film critics (for New York Press) to step up and actually make a feature film, wisely attended the old admonition to stick with what you know: Not only does his… (more)