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When will filmmakers get the message that extended takes are of far more interest to them than viewers? It apparently hasn’t gotten through to director Sam Neave, whose indie feature Almost in Love consists of two continuous 40-minute takes. But for all the undeniable technical bravura on display, this drama depicting the romantic complications among a group of New Yorkers fails to make much of an impression.
The film’s first half is set during a dinner party on the palatial terrace of a Staten Island apartment offering tremendous views of the Manhattan skyline. The host is Sasha (Alex Karpovsky, currently seen on HBO’s Girls), and among the guests is Mia (Marjan Neshat), his ex-girlfriend for whom he secretly still pines.
The main drama ensues with the unexpected arrival of Sasha’s best friend Kyle (Gary Wilmes), who briefly dated Mia after the break-up, much to Sasha’s consternation. Tensions flare as alcohol is consumed, with Sasha eventually and drunkenly declaring his love to his ex.
The second part, taking place a year and a half later, is set during a late-night party at a beachside house in the Hamptons. The occasion is Sasha’s wedding, but not to Mia, who is now dating another man (Alan Cumming).
Consisting mostly of the sort of banal (and in this case, semi-improvised) chatter that makes such social gatherings often unbearable, the film is mostly notable for its stunt-like cinematic approach. And indeed, director Neave — with the invaluable assistance of Daniel McKeown’s fluid cinematography and Bryan Dembinki’s naturalistic, Robert Altmanesque sound design — impressively handles the daunting technical aspects of his self-assigned task.
But the stylistic effort only exposes the flaws of the slight material which vainly aspires to Woody Allen-style sophistication. While the actors go through their rigorous paces with admirable finesse, their efforts are undercut by the fact that we wind up concentrating far more on how they’re being filmed than their performances.
Opens: Friday, Feb. 15 (Argot Pictures)
Production: Falling Rock Zone Productions
Cast: Alex Karpovsky, Marjan Neshat, Gary Wilmes, Alan Cumming, Adam Rapp, Katherine Waterston, Mizuo Peck, Gretchen Hall
Director/screenwriter: Sam Neave
Producers: D.L. Glickman, Michaela McKee
Executive producer: D.L. Glickman
Director of photography: Daniel McKeown
Production designer: Elizabeth Jones
Composer: James Lavino
No MPAA rating, 80 minutes
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