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Some Girl(s): SXSW Review

The Bottom Line

A weaselly protagonist keeps well-made film from connecting emotionally.

Venue

South By Southwest, Narrative Spotlight

Cast

Adam Brody, Kristen Bell, Zoe Kazan, Mia Maestro, Jennifer Morrison, Emily Watson

Director

Daisy von Scherler Mayer

Adam Brody and Kristen Bell star in an adaption of the Neil LaBute's play.

AUSTIN — A feature-length treatment of a notion handled with much more aplomb (not to mention heart) in High Fidelity, Some Girl(s) follows a self-involved writer who, before he gets married, jets around the country having uninvited reunions with old girlfriends he dumped. Director Daisy von Scherler Mayer and a strong cast do right by Neil LaBute's script (based on his play), but the soullessness of the story is a turnoff overpowering the intriguing moments scattered within these one-on-one encounters.

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Adam Brody plays the unnamed man in question, who -- having mined his love life for stories published in national magazines -- is less welcome in these rendezvous than the average ex would be. Still, he convinces a handful of women to meet him in hotel rooms, where he, after much fidgeting and offering of minibar refreshments, makes annoyingly vague overtures toward emotional closure.

If he's pathetically insensitive in the first encounter, explaining to his high school sweetheart (Jennifer Morrison) that he knew any man who married her would end up working in a supermarket the rest of his life, the second makes him look like a liar and cheat: He's so halfhearted in fending off the advances of this sultry Latina ex (Mia Maestro) we immediately disbelieve his suggestion that he's doing this to begin his marriage on the right foot.

Each meeting is more involved than the last, and only one -- in which an older woman (Emily Watson) has some convoluted notions about payback -- is wholly unbelievable. A meeting with his childhood best friend's kid sister (Zoe Kazan), who he kissed when he was 16 and she was 11, is the strongest, its talk of advantage-taking and lost innocence the only spark of real, bracing emotional insight the script offers.

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The finale concerns the one old flame (Kristen Bell) who seems to have had the most impact on this selfish man -- and even here, he can only describe her as being one of the women most essential to making him who he is. She gets the best of him, but their increasingly heated confrontation leads to a revelation that makes little sense given what we've seen through the rest of the film.

Production Company: Leeden Media, Pollution Studios

Cast: Adam Brody, Kristen Bell, Zoe Kazan, Mia Maestro, Jennifer Morrison, Emily Watson

Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer

Screenwriter: Neil LaBute

Producers: Patty West, Chris Schwartz, Andrew Carlberg

Executive producer: Nick Horbaczewski

Director of photography: Rachel Morrison

Production designer: Maya Sigel

Music: David Carbonara

Costume designer: Nancea Ceo

Editor: Michael Darrow

Sales: Cinetic Media

No rating, 89 minutes