A Strong Argument for Celibacy

 

Easy (2004) Review 5
Director:Jane Weinstock,
Starring:Marguerite Moreau, Brian F. O’Byrne, Naveen Andrews, Emily Deschanel
Length:97 minutes
Rated:R

 

Writer/director Jane Weinstock just may have created a new genre with her film “Easy.” How does “quirky indie soap opera” grab you? Although it may not roll of the tongue as easily as, say, “edgy dramedy,” the above classification is as accurate a description of Weinstock’s film as you’re likely to find. The director tries valiantly to make a movie about contemporary relationships that’s not a romantic comedy, but what results is a confused film that searches in vain for a personality.

Jamie Harris (Marguerite Moreau) is 25-years-old, a single resident of Los Angeles, and has one of the greatest-sounding jobs in the world — she makes her living naming new products (where do I apply?). She’s ready to embark on a meaningful relationship with a serious partner, but her romantic escapades to date have turned into little more than a series of inconsequential flings. That is until she becomes reacquainted with ex-college classmate John Kalicharan (Naveen Andrews) — a now successful poet who recently moved to L.A. But John comes equipped with baggage — namely, he’s getting over an eight-year relationship. Weighed down with considerably less baggage is Mick (Brian F. O’Byrne), an Irish comedian who hosts his own late night cable show. Mick and Jamie strike up a friendship, but the man soon finds himself wanting more out of the relationship.Easy (2004) Review 7

So whom should Jamie choose — John or Mick? John has poetry and a sultry British accent going for him, but Mick’s a nice, down-to-earth guy and simply seems the more trust worthy of the two(his accent’s not bad either). But before Jamie can even ponder this question, she has a life altering experience…or is it that life altering? The dramatic question in the end is whether or not our young heroine is doomed to live a lifetime of repeated mistakes.

“Easy” strings together episodic bits, clunky subplots, and a few unnecessary characters, but remains firmly a study of Jamie. For whatever reason, Weinstock feels the need to conveniently tie up every character’s story in a nice, neat bow and she strains pretty hard to connect all of the film’s inhabitants. The filmmaker resorts to forcing in some inane storytelling gimmicks along the way, and a big problem is that I don’t particularly care for either of Jamie’s suitors. John’s pretentiousness is tough to stomach and the spineless Mick basically asks to be walked all over. At one point, Jamie decides to be celibate for a prolonged period of time, and never once did I doubt this was the best option for the young woman.

But there’s some hard to define quality about “Easy” that prevents me from totally writing it off. Perhaps it’s that Weinstock occasionally has her finger squarely on the pulse of the difficulties of young adult love. Certain awkward and ugly moments (the first time Jamie and Mick spend a night together) totally transcend cinematic artifice. The film tenuously juggles scenes of raw honesty with ones that are completely contrived, and it predictably drops the ball on more than one occasion.

Another strength is the performance of Marguerite Moreau, who may or may not be the next Parker Posey. Jamie is an odd character, but Moreau injects enough charm and vulnerability into her that you stay concerned with the outcome of her plight. Even when she makes regrettable decisions (spying on John is one of them), Jamie still manages to come out of the situation looking okay. You just wish somebody would inform her that she could do much better than either John or Mick.

Shot in particularly ugly digital video, “Easy” has a number of things going against it, yet I wasn’t altogether unsatisfied by the experience when the film concluded. I must give Weinstock credit for taking a familiar blueprint and traveling down a different road with it, and in spots she shows quite a bit of insight into the tough realities of modern romance. A mixed bag at best, “Easy” is riddled with impossible to overlook flaws, but also hints at potentially interesting work to come from Weinstock.