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Thursday, 5 December 2013

Lover Boy (2013)

Director: T J Randolph
Stars: Jacob Elam and Alexis Tarazon
This film was a submission to one of the IFP Phoenix film challenges in 2013. Here's an index to my reviews of 2013 submissions.
You'd think that any film that starts with a slow pan along a bookshelf would automatically find a place in my heart, but unfortunately that's the best part of this film, an IFP Mystery Box Challenge entry from Reel Films. Unfortunately the rest of the piece has nothing to do with books, merely with the perceived romantic troubles of its lead character, Justin, which are clumsily explored with a story that falls utterly flat. As Justin, Jacob Elam dominates the film but he aims for the sort of awkwardly nice feel that Logan Blackwell nails every time he gets in front of a camera and Elam can't come close. The script tasks him with acting in a vacuum, occupying a sort of invisible space that nobody else notices for the most part. His best moment is delivering the required line of dialogue, which is one that could have gone horribly wrong but doesn't: 'Step one, be attractive. Step two, don't be unattractive.' It's well phrased, delivered to him by his reflection in the mirror. Unfortunately that line clearly drove the rest of the story.

There are other people in the film, but none get much chance to do anything and even Bob Marquis is unable to contribute anything to save it. Alexis Tarazon, playing Justin's wannabe love interest, Becca, has a role that gives her nothing to do except deliver a poor plot twist, one that plays out cheaply as if the filmmakers ran out of time. As the film could have been two minutes longer and still been eligible, I can only assume that the shooting schedule wasn't particularly efficient. Certainly little time seems to have been spent in post production, as the inconsistent sound often cuts out entirely, possibly to wipe out background noise. I felt the standards of Mystery Box films were higher on average than Beat the Clock films earlier in the year. However some films have to fall below the average and this was clearly one. It wasn't the worst of the pack but it came a lot closer than most, driven by a notably weak script. Maybe the lack of a writer credit at the end was a subconscious acknowledgement.

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