Easier With Practice -- Film Review

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LAS VEGAS -- One doesn't usually associate the words "tender" and "affecting" with the topic of phone sex, but such is the case with "Easier With Practice," an unexpectedly stirring first feature by Kyle Patrick Alvarez about the challenges of making human connections in the weird and wired 21st century.

Winner of the CineVegas Grand Jury Prize, the beautifully acted serio-comedy takes a potentially smirky premise -- a chance dirty phone call between an introverted writer and a persuasive mystery woman becomes a meaningful long-distance relationship -- and turns it into something that really reaches out and touches you.

Graphic mainly in terms of language, the film deserves to find a home with a specialty distributor skilled in addressing those inherent can't-judge-a-book-by-its-cover challenges.

Originally taking the form of an autobiographical 2006 GQ article by Davy Rothbart, the neatly expanded feature centers on a road trip taken by the withdrawn Davy (an intensely vulnerable Brian Geraghty) to promote his as-yet-unpublished novel.

Accompanied by his decidedly more forward, younger brother, Sean (Kel O'Neill), Davy's uneventful tour of dusty bookstores and college campuses takes a surprising turn the night he answers a ringing phone in a fleabag motel and "meets" Nicole.

Initial distrust of the sexy voice on the other end inevitably turns to lust and then, curiously, into an odd emotional bond that serves to drive a wedge in the already-strained relationship between the brothers.

Avoiding any predictable broad strokes, director-writer Alvarez and his rooted cast (also notably including Marguerite Moreau as an ex-girlfriend of Davy's whose desire to rekindle their brief relationship ends in humiliation) instead delineate some of the finer truths regarding love, sex and loneliness.

Completing that understated, solitary vibe is the eloquent stillness of cinematographer David Morrison's compositions, digitally shot on the RED One Camera System.

Venue: CineVegas (Lantern Lane Entertainment)
Production: Forty Second Prods.
Cast: Brian Geraghty, Kel O'Neill, Marguerite Moreau
Director-screenwriter: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Producers: Cookie Carosella, Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Director of photography: David Morrison
Production designer: Brooke Peters
Editor: Fernando Collins
Costume designer: Tom Soluri
No rating, 104 minutes