'Other People's Children': Film Review

Courtesy of Metamorphic Entertainment
An exploitative romantic melodrama.

An aspiring filmmaker becomes romantically involved with a homeless man in Liz Hinlein's directorial debut.

Forget pick-up bars and trendy nightclubs. If enough Los Angeles-based women see Liz Hinlein's directorial debut, then Skid Row will be the destination of choice to find hunky, sensitive men.

Such is the situation depicted in Other People's Children, whose central character is Sam (Diane Marshall-Green), an aspiring filmmaker still mourning the recent death of her world-famous artist father (Scott Patterson) despite his also having been, as illustrated in several flashbacks, a world-class jerk.

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Upon returning to Los Angeles from the East Coast, Sam is chagrined to discover that her friends Josh (Michael Mosley), with whom she once had a brief fling, and Ariel (Alexandra Breckenridge) are now a couple. Drowning her sorrows in alcohol and drunken hook-ups, Sam is more than a little intrigued by P.K. (Chad Michael Murray), a homeless man for whom she impulsively buys a hot chocolate when he creates a ruckus in a coffee shop by asking to use the bathroom.

At first Sam is interested in P.K. and his band of similarly homeless friends  — who squat in an abandoned warehouse large enough to host raves — as the subjects for her next film. But she soon finds herself romantically attracted to the soft-spoken, courtly young man who boasts cheekbones to die for (underneath his fashionably scruffy beard) and a chiseled, six-pack physique that suggests that, while he may be homeless, he does possess one hell of a gym membership. He's clearly well-educated, able to identify Ariel being named not for The Little Mermaid but rather for the character in Shakespeare's The Tempest. And he assures Sam that, while he takes drugs, he's "clean," meaning that he doesn't use needles.

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Naturally, the subsequent relationship meets with disapproval from Sam's friends, especially Josh, who's clearly still interested in her. And not everyone in P.K.'s circle is as well-mannered as he is, especially the volatile Eddie (Harrison Thomas), who at one point shows up in Sam's bed while she's sleeping.

Adrienne Harris' screenplay never musters up sufficient dramatic tension to make us care for her clichéd characters, and a late revelation about P.K's actual situation in life isn't nearly as shocking as it's clearly intended to be. Exploiting the serious issue of homelessness for the purpose of cheap romantic melodrama, Other People's Children squanders whatever potential it might have had.

Production: OPC Film

Distributor: Golden Films

Cast: Diane Marshall-Green, Chad Michael Murray, Michael Mosley, Alexandra Breckenridge, Harrison Thomas, Alysa Diaz

Director: Liz Hinlein

Screenwriter: Adrienne Harris

Producers: Edward Button, Adrienne Harris, Liz Hinlein, Diane Marshall-Green

Executive producers: Edward Button, Robyn Holt, Chad Michael Murray, Priya Santiani

Director of photography: Edward Button

Production designer: Derrick Hinman

Editor: Eugenio Richer

Costume designer: Alison Brooks

Composer: Mac Quayle

Casting: Melissa DeLizia, Wendy O'Brien

Not rated, 84 minutes.