Loitering With Intent: Tribeca Review

Loitering with Intent Still Tribeca - H 2014
Tribeca Film Festival

Loitering with Intent Still Tribeca - H 2014

Ensemble comedy benefits hugely from the presence of Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell.

Playwright-filmmaker Adam Rapp directs his first film based on someone else's script.

NEW YORK — An ensemble week-in-the-country film in which two struggling actors (Michael Godere and Ivan Martin) attempt to write a screenplay amid assorted distractions, Adam Rapp's Loitering With Intent trades the artificially escalating mayhem one might expect for an introspective friction more in keeping with its well-used bucolic setting. Written by the men playing those would-be thespian-scribes, the pic works best when it's least self-referential, focusing on romantic attractions in many stages of development. Though it won't do for its authors what Swingers and Good Will Hunting did for theirs, Loitering is smartly written enough to further their off-camera careers; thanks to predictably winning performances from Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell, it also has some theatrical potential in limited release.

Martin and Godere play Raphael and Dominic, struggling actors approaching an "age void" in which getting roles will be even harder. When a better-connected acquaintance says her boss has a few hundred grand to invest in a film, they lie about a noir they've written whose leading roles they'd be perfect to play. She gives them 10 days to deliver the script, so the boys run off for an intensive writing retreat at the rural New York home of Dom's sister Gigi (Tomei).

They don't find the solitude they're seeking. Gigi and her friend Ava (Isabelle McNally) have a hard time keeping to themselves, fostering a house-party vibe that tears Raf away from the writing (largely because he's still attracted to Gigi, years after they dated). Then Gigi's estranged boyfriend Wayne (Rockwell) shows up — a veteran with anger issues who has brought his surfer-dude brother Devon (Brian Geraghty) along to keep him cool while he tries to win Gigi back.

If it sounds like that in-progress screenplay is a MacGuffin, well, it is. Though the film gets a laugh or two from the project early on, it mainly serves as a way of keeping Godere present in the pic, anxiously projecting his character's show-biz ambitions while his more appealing co-stars have fun out on the lawn. Helmer Rapp shares a bit of Dominic's restlessness, keeping his camera moving slowly or nervously in scenes where it doesn't quite need to, but he doesn't overpower his cast.

It would be difficult to distract from Tomei, whose delightful physical expressiveness steals a few scenes, or Rockwell, who underplays a character from whom we expect macho posturing. Though Wayne never threatens or explodes (he simmers once or twice, when evaluating whether Rafael is a threat to his relationship or not), his anger is the story's center in a way the doomed screenplay project can't be — or rather, his attempts, both amusing and heartfelt, to recognize and defuse that anger before it keeps him from making Gigi happy.

Production: Parts & Labor

Cast: Ivan Martin, Michael Godere, Sam Rockwell, Brian Geraghty, Isabelle McNally, Marisa Tomei

Director: Adam Rapp

Screenwriters: Michael Godere, Ivan Martin

Producers: Lars Knudsen, Jay Van Hoy, Marisa Tomei, Tory Lenosky, Alex Sagalchik, Gabriel Cowan, John Suits, Michael Godere, Ivan Martin, Keith Kjarval

Executive producers: Aleks de Carvalho, Michael Kay, Thomas B. Fore, Jason Michael Berman, Mayank Bhatter, Manini Gupta, Luke Barnett, Sam Rockwell, Brian Geraghty, Jeff Rice

Director of photography: Radium Cheung

Production designer: Neil Patel

Costume designer: Arjun Bhasin

Editors: Rebecca Rodriguez, Michael Taylor

Music: Money Mark

Sales: Kevin Iwashina, Preferred Content

Not rated, 75 minutes