Certainty: Film Review

This romantic drama about a couple in crisis mixes relationship and religious issues to uneven effect.

A young couple find their relationship tested while attending a pre-nuptial Catholic retreat.

Romantic travails and religious issues are interwoven to uncertain effect in Certainly, Peter Askin’s feature about a young couple attending a mandatory Catholic retreat before their impending nuptials. Adapted by actor/writer Mike O’Malley (CBS’s Yes, Dear) from his own play, the film never manages to make us care about its central characters, let alone the plethora of supporting ones filling up the screen.

Underlying issues straining their relationship soon come to the fore when Dom (Tom Lipinski) and Deb (Adelaide Clemens) participate in the sessions conducted by Father Heery (Giancarlo Esposito), whose hipness is indicated by his unruffled reaction to Dom’s angry dropping of F-bombs. Deb’s become unsure of Dom’s commitment to the relationship and suspects him of being involved with another woman while he feels put off by her newfound religious convictions.

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Meanwhile, there’s trouble brewing within Dom’s family, as his sister Melissa (Tammy Blanchard), who has recently blossomed into a beauty after losing a large amount of weight, seems to be getting awfully close with her touchy-feely acting teacher while her longtime hubby (Bobby Moynihan) remains cheerfully oblivious.

Mixing soap-opera melodramatics with pithy one-liners, the film never achieves a coherent tone, with the uneven performances by the ensemble adding to the problem. The supporting players far overshadow the leads, with Blanchard in particular delivering a subtle, complex turn. Esposito is typically authoritative as the priest, although the actor’s villainous roles may be catching up with him — one half expects his character to tear off his collar and take his congregants hostage. And anyone who grew up watching Valerie Harper as the quintessentially Jewish Rhoda Morgenstern will be shocked to find her here playing Dom’s devotedly Catholic mother.

Cast: Adelaide Clemens, Tom Lipinski, Bobby Moynihan, Tammy Blanchard, Will Rogers, Kristen Connolly, Giancarlo Esposito, Valerie Harper.

Director: Peter Askin.

Screenwriter: Mike O’Malley.

Producers: Will Battersby, Per Melita, Mike O’Malley.

Director of photography: Sean Kirby.

Editor: Karen Weinberg.

Production designer: Dara Wishingrad.

Costume designer: Tere Duncan.

Composer: David Mansfield.

Not rated, 104 min.