Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sam Neave's Almost in Love

Last week I was fortunate enough to be offered a ride from Sam Neave himself to San Jose to see his newest, Almost in Love, which was playing as part of the local Cinequest film festival. Having been a fan of Cry Funny Happy for a number of years now, it was great to finally see a new work from Neave. His one film since Cry, First Person Singular, was not released on DVD, and I wasn't sure what the fate of the new one would be (according to Neave, both will get DVD releases, pending song clearances).

I don't normally write about films on here until I've seen them twice (being a critic is surely a tougher job than it seems), but I thought a few words were in order, especially since the film was so good. Almost in Love is a film about a love triangle of sorts between three friends. I say "of sorts" because the girl never really seems to be in love with either of the male characters, although she may have been once. The film consists of two 40-minute continuous takes. In the first, Sasha (Alex Karpovsky, the best I've seen him yet) is throwing a barbecue on his balcony on Staten Island, and has invited his old flame Mia (Marjan Neshat). Shasha's sometimes friend Kyle (Gary Wilmes) is mistakenly invited, and having briefly dated Mia after her breakup with Sasha, creates an awkward scene and nearly ruins the barbecue. At this point I was reminded of Cry Funny Happy's party-ruining breakdown scene, but Neave isn't intent on repeating himself; this one ends on a much different note. The second part takes place during a party on Long Island, roughly a year and a half later. It is Sasha's wedding night, but he's not married to Mia. All his friends are there, including some new ones, and the party has gone on through the night and is approaching dawn. Without revealing or summarizing too much, I will say that Sasha comes to terms with his heart's unmet desire, while we hope Kyle, who is shown to be a kinder person than we may have initially assumed, can do so with the same sort of grace.

The film is extremely well acted, and recalls Altman's 70's films using multiple mics and overlapping dialogue.  The second part is particularly impressive, given the choreography involved. There is never a dead or false moment during this scene, and DP Daniel McKeown makes it all look so easy with his agile camerawork. I'm forgetting a lot of nuance that would make this a better piece, but I'm hoping I've at least aroused some interest from any readers I might have, and maybe after a second viewing I'll post a better piece.

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