FILM REVIEW: Micro-Budget Family-and-Friends Affair 'Loveless' Has Mellow Charm

This micro-budget family-and-friends affair has some mellow charm, but is too slight to win hearts.

Light touch, sheepish wit and realistic cast help soft New York City slacker comedy, writes David Rooney.

NEW YORK -- The loose-limbed quality and light touch of writer-director Ramin Serry’s Loveless has a certain low-key appeal, as does the mixed cast of professional and novice actors. But the intimate comedy suffers from lethargic pacing and soft payoff.

Opening with initial dates in Chicago and New York in a self-distributed run, the film blends naturalistic observation of people in Serry and his producer partner Shauna Lyon’s circle of friends within a fictionalized plot. Echoing that structure, its central character is an aspiring filmmaker who gets caught up in the passion project of an off-kilter family to make a movie about their beloved late father.

In the early set-up, the unproduced screenplay being touted by Andrew (Andrew Von Urtz) appears to be just a ruse to help him hook up with women in Manhattan bars by suggesting he might have a role for them. But the interest of his ex-girlfriend, Joanna (Cindy Chastain), motivates him to believe the thing might actually get made, lazily rekindling their relationship in the process.

An attempt to secure financing through his eccentric friend Tad (Gary Wilmes) goes nowhere. But after repeat encounters with elusive beauty Ava (Genevieve Hudson-Price), Andrew becomes convinced she could be his lead, and that her intense brother Ricky (Scott Cohen) will bankroll the movie.

Potential alarm bells such as the siblings’ obsession with their dead dad, Ricky’s creepy stalker behavior and clan-like entourage, and his insistence that Andrew put his film project on hold to work on theirs all get ignored. Instead, as Andrew gets more romantically entangled with Ava, Joanna loses patience.

While the central figure of an overgrown slacker unable to commit is a familiar one, Von Urtz brings a nice sheepish wit and spontaneity to the deadpan role. The film gains in freshness overall by assembling a cast that look like real people -- attractive without being made-over.

But as comedy, Loveless is listless, meandering along when it needs to build with purpose. And Andrew’s emotional arc lacks the definition to give the throwaway ending its intended poignancy.

Audio quality is flat and could use a more generous music track to provide texture, but the visuals are crisp (the film was shot on RED digital camera) and the editing fluid.

Opens: Friday, Feb. 11
Production company: Streetlight Films

Producer: Shauna Lyon
Executive producer: Cyrus Serry
Story: Ramin Serry, Shauna Lyon
Director of photography: Doug Emmett
Music: Ahrin Mishan
Editor: Eric Kahle
No rating, 92 minutes

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