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Ex-Girlfriends: Film Review

Ex-Girlfriends Jennifer Carpenter Screengrab - H 2012

The Bottom Line

Unconvincing indie rom-com has artful aspirations but lacks flavor.

Opens:

Wednesday, November 28 (Cinetic Rights Management, FilmBuff)

Cast:

Alexander Poe, Jennifer Carpenter, Kristen Connolly

Director-Screenwriter:

Alexander Poe

Alexander Poe stars in his writing/directing debut, but juggling vengeful schemes with Jennifer Carpenter and Kristen Connolly proves too much for a film student to handle.

A young creative writing student in New York tries to win back an old lover while turning the quest into "fiction" in Ex-Girlfriends, a micro-budget navel-gazer created by and starring a young New York film student, Alexander Poe, whose love life one assumes to be unsettled at best. Only the most generous art house patrons will find the picture stands up to comparisons it invites with Woody Allen and other smart-romance touchstones; more appropriate would be comparisons to the recent work of a blander New Yorker, Edward Burns.

Poe plays Graham, who narrates his tale in a thin voiceover; if there are faces made for radio, his is a voice made for print. Prose is where Graham's ambitions lie, and after a few scenes of telling his own story in second person ("you" are encountering beautiful ex-girlfriend Laura at a party; "you" are striking out while trying to look cool) we see him in a writing seminar: The story we're watching is the one he's submitting to his peers, and many viewers will share the misgivings expressed by Graham's fellow students.

REVIEW: Playing for Keeps

Odd that, after poking holes in his own narrative strategies, Poe continues in much the same vein for much of the film. Graham does soon meet Laura (Kristen Connolly) again in a more casual setting, and learns that she's suffering in an on/off relationship with a cad who's also dating another of Graham's exes, Kate (Jennifer Carpenter). Seeing an opportunity to catch her on the rebound, Graham withholds information as a ruse to spend more time with her. When that fails, he and a newly-spurned Kate set out on a misguided attempt to expose the two-timer.

The romantic dilemmas suffered by these twentysomethings may be universal, but their naive attempts to address them are hard to buy. The wounded vengefulness and harebrained scheming would play better as a high-school farce starring unknown teen thesps than as the debut of a writer/director who hopes to join a more sophisticated artistic cohort.

Cast: Alexander Poe, Jennifer Carpenter, Kristen Connolly

Director-Screenwriter: Alexander Poe

Producer-Editor: Jennifer Gerber

Executive producers: Alexander Poe, Jennifer Carpenter

Director of photography: Gregory Kershaw

Production designers: Joseph Varca, Minji Kang

No rating, 72 minutes