Save the Date: Sundance Film Review
Sundance Film Festival (U.S. Dramatic Competition)
Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber
Lizzy Caplan, Martin Starr and Alison Brie star in director Michael Mohan's indie relationship comedy.
PARK CITY — The bonds of love and family are tested in the most mundane ways in Save the Date, an indie relationship comedy that’s short on both romance and humor. Fests may beckon in order to fill late-night slots that draw younger audiences, but continued play beyond the circuit is probably limited to DVD or VOD.
Los Angeles bookstore manager and graphic artist Sarah (Lizzy Caplan) is nervous about moving in with her boyfriend Kevin (Geoffrey Arend), the guitarist in a two-man band with Andrew (Martin Starr), who is engaged to Sarah’s sister Beth (Alison Brie). Kevin takes their plans for cohabitation as a sign to move ahead faster, buying an engagement ring and considering an ideal time and place to present it. Although Andrew attempts to dissuade him, Kevin makes an ill-timed proposal during one of the band’s live club shows, leaving Sarah speechless. With her commitment-phobia erupting full-force, she splits up with Kevin the next day and gets her own place.
Observing their breakup at the club is Jonathan (Mark Webber), a bookstore customer who quickly insinuates himself as Sarah’s rebound lover. Meanwhile, Beth’s wedding-planning anxiety is peaking, aggravated by Andrew’s apparent indifference and Sarah’s emotional unavailability. An unexpected development then pushes Sarah to reevaluate then men in her life and her relationship with Beth, perhaps glimpsing a path ahead to some version of maturity.
Director Michael Mohan and co-scripters Jeffrey Brown (a graphic artist) and Egan Reich (a playwright) take a banal situation and somehow manage to render it even more insipid. Most of these characters are so self-absorbed and have so little else going on in their lives that most people wouldn’t consider spending 98 minutes in a room with them. Mohan’s lensing, while capable, is strictly by the numbers, revealing little concerning individual motivation.
The hipsterish ensemble cast appears game, but runs out of yardage early in the film, essentially repeating the same beats throughout the remaining running time. Caplan and Webber are the standouts among the performers, demonstrating a degree of emotional range that’s watchable enough, if not greatly involving. Both of them appear in multiple films at the 2012 festival.
Venue: Sundance Film Festival, U.S. Dramatic Competition
Production company: A Gilbert Films, Night & Day Pictures and Huffington Productions Production
Cast: Lizzy Caplan, Alison Brie, Martin Starr, Geoffrey Arend, Mark Webber, Melonie Diaz, Timothy Busfield
Director: Michael Mohan
Screenwriters: Jeffrey Brown, Egan Reich, Michael Mohan
Producers: Jordan Horowitz, Michael Huffington, Michael Roiff
Executive producer: Gary Gilbert
Director of photography: Elisha Christian
Production designers: Cindy Chao, Michele Yu
Costumes: Mirren Gordon-Crozier
Music: Hrishikesh Hirway
Editor: Christian Masini
No rating, 98 minutes