Starring: Alicia Goranson, David Eigenberg, Brendan Sexton III
Studio: Warner Bros.
Video: 1.85:1 Widescreen Enhanced
Audio: DD Stereo
Extras: Theatrical Trailer; Deleted Scenes (6); Photo Gallery; Cast Biographies (5).
Length: 89 minutes
This movie is based upon the play “Finger Painting in a Murphy Bed” written by David L. Paterson. It tells the story of a young woman (Myra) who, due to the death of her mother, is left to care for her “special needs” brother (Ludlow) who spends most of the time at home painting, reading the classics, pretending, and acting like a spoiled brat. When an awkward coworker gets up the courage to ask Myra out, it isn’t clear whether he will be able to break through her guarded exterior and find romance. Needless to say, there is a clash between the two “men” in Myra’s life and all concerned have difficulty sorting it out. In the end the viewer is given a little hope that the dysfunctional characters may be able to compromise and live happily ever after.
Although the film begins in a way that is not unlike most decent independent cinema, there are a few immediate caveats. The amateur-looking titles weren’t a big turnoff, but definitely put me on alert. From there on the film had weird cuts, strange framing, and most importantly lacked a sufficient translation from the feel of a play to the style of the big screen. On a few different occasions I wondered why they even bothered to make the play into a film. The locales were fairly simple (aside from the beach perhaps—that still could have been replicated on stage). And the plot was very character/dialogue driven with little or no necessary action. And then there was the acting. Really it was a question whether it was bad acting or a bad script. I believe it was both. Sexton does such a great job that I would tend to lay blame on Goranson, Eigenberg, and the supporting cast. Goranson just seems to overact in a stagey way—and that is surprising. After all, she spent many years on the sitcom Roseanne, so should be at ease in front of the camera. In some scenes she appears to be comfortable, but in many her actions seems overly exaggerated and at times, unbelievable. Eigenberg might have worked, but just falls short. After seeing him in a few Sex and the City episodes, his versatility is in question. Most of the cast has a stage background, but relatively few film performances. The character playing Eigenberg’s friend in the film is an exception, but seems underutilized. The film plods on throwing an emotional outburst here and there (varying the characters involved), but never really hits the mark. The film was a Sundance Official Selection, so maybe it just needed a different audience.
– Brian Bloom