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Under Siege

MRQE Top Critic

Noi Albinoi

Mystery and ambivalence about this Bleak portrait of isolation are amplified on DVD —Marty Mapes (DVD review...)

Noi the Albino spends winter in Iceland alone

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Strike Two!

First Troy Beyer wrote the critically panned “B.A.P.S.” Now she makes her directorial debut, writing, directing, and starring in this sub-par film about women talking about sex. Though not without redeeming qualities, this film is bad.

The basic story follows three single friends – Jazz (Beyer), Lena (Randi Ingerman), and Michelle (Paget Brewster) – in their search for love. Jazz has an idea for a local talk show; it would feature women talking about sex and dating. She and her friends make a demo tape of interviews with the women of Miami.

The film itself is sprinkled with these real interviews throughout, both as part of the plot and as commentary on the situations of the main characters. The fact that they are real provides a refreshing break from some of the more melodramatic moments in the film.

There are several moments of bad acting, corny dialogue, and emotional overextension. In a low-budget independent film from a first-time director, these faults can sometimes be forgiven, if the screenplay is fresh and solid. That is not the case here.

The script suffers from random plot developments. There are four or five of these turns in the plot, each one raising the question “where did that come from?” At one point, a character has a lifelong reconciliation with her mother. We are supposed to be moved, but since the scene is completely un-led-up to, we really don’t care if she and her mother get along. We’ve never seen her mother before. We never see her again. Who cares?

What’s worse, these sudden developments are supposed to engage our sympathy. At another point, a character announces that she can’t have children. Apparently, this is devastating. We wouldn’t know this because she never talked about having kids before, but we are nevertheless expected to be devastated for her. The scene feels like an afterthought, its emotion manipulative and shallow.

These scenes grow worse and worse, culminating in an absurd climax. Two scenes were played with such overwhelming melodrama that I found myself laughing. One scene is a lover’s spat between two minor characters. The other has the main characters expressing their copious grief by cleaning house in wails of despair and clouds of Ajax.

Thinking on these scenes, it is hard for me to admit that the film has redeeming qualities. But it does.

First, it is original. We men often wonder what women talk about when they are alone in groups, and I imagine this film gives me a pretty good idea. It’s something I don’t think has been the subject of a film.

Second, the interviews of the Miami women are sincere. Taken together, they form a mosaic picture of Miami beachwalkers and bistro diners. The mosaic is made of sound bites and stereotypes, but each tile is some woman’s real experience. Neither the picture of women, nor their picture of men, is truly representative, but the point is that both sets of generalizations are telling in their own way. At some level, the stereotypes that emerge can be called true.

I can imagine some people liking this film when its characters talk about their “likes, dislikes, skills, and thrills,” but on the whole, it’s pretty bad. And that makes it even harder to forgive the bad acting, corny dialogue, and emotional overextension.

I’ll give Beyer one more strike, and then she’s out.

Rated R (almost got an NC-17) for explicit sexual dialogue and nudity.