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Eden is only temporary in Vincent N Roxxy, Gary Michael Schultz’s tale of lovers who find each other while escaping to a small Louisiana town from dangers in nearby Baton Rouge. Emile Hirsch and Zoe Kravitz, as strangers thrown together by a violent incident, enjoy an easy chemistry here, encouraging viewers to forget the menace that starts the story and, with startling violence, will end it. A much calmer, less colorful cousin to on-the-lam love stories like True Romance, the pic fits no easy commercial slot but will be enjoyed by many at fests.
Hirsch is self-possessed as Vincent, who witnesses a that’s-no-accident car wreck and saves a stranger, Kravitz’s Roxxy, from a man threatening her life. Whisking her away from the crime scene, Vincent offers Roxxy a place to get her bearings far from those who are hunting her: He’s heading out to the small town where he grew up, and there’s a trailer she can use on the property.
Roxxy eventually takes him up on the offer, and is embraced by Kate (Zoey Deutch), who lives at the family house with Vincent’s brother, JC (Emory Cohen). Kate finds Roxxy work as a bartender, while mechanically-inclined Vincent helps his brother start up an auto shop. The four form an easygoing family; but while the title characters flirt, taciturn Vincent takes his time, ignoring JC’s encouragement to make things physical with their guest.
Good-times montages aside, the picture never lets viewers get completely comfortable. On a non-date date at a carnival, Vincent and Roxxy joke about how they would go about robbing the operation; at the bar where she and Roxxy work, Kate’s jealous ex-boyfriend threatens to start a townwide feud. But Schultz’s storytelling is aligned with his male protagonist, who’s making a concerted effort to leave the unexplained darkness in his past behind, and for an enjoyable stretch, it seems he might do that unscathed.
Most viewers will be unprepared for both the reckoning to come and the ways some characters respond to it. The film banks hard, transforming from a quiet character piece into something like a grindhouse revenge flick. The shift is less jarring when we stop to consider how little we know about the lovers we’ve come to root for, and how little reason we had to hope they could escape cleanly from whatever nastiness chased them out of the city.
Venue: Tribeca Film Festival (Spotlight)
Production company: Unified Pictures
Cast: Emile Hirsch, Zoe Kravitz, Emory Cohen, Zoey Deutch, Jason Mitchell, Beau Knapp, Scott Mescudi
Director-screenwriter: Gary Michael Schultz
Producer: Keith Kjarval
Executive producers: Ahmir Thompson, Jeff Rice, Ben Ruffman, Gregory P. Shockro, Aaron L. Gilbert, Erika Hampson
Director of photography: Alex Disenhof
Production designer: Christopher Stull
Costume designer: Charlese Antoinette Jones
Editor: Bruce Cannon
Composers: Ahmir Thompson, Ray Angry
Casting directors: Tracy Kilpatrick, Mary Vernieu, Michelle Wade Byrd
Sales: Liesl Copland, WME Global
Not rated, 115 minutes
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