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Two Girls and a Guy

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Two Girls and a Guy

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Heather Graham
Director: James Toback
Rated: R
RunTime: 92 Minutes
Release Date: April 1998
Genres: Comedy, Drama

*Also starring: Natasha Gregson Wagner, Angel David, Frederique Van Der Wal

Review by Greg King
2 stars out of 4

The title says it all, really! This is a film about two girls and a guy who share an unusual sexual triangle.

Lou (Natasha Gregson Wagner, daughter of the late Natalie Wood) and Carla (Heather Graham, from Boogie Nights, etc) meet outside a New York apartment building. They are both waiting for their boyfriend to return from the airport. During their discussion, they both discover that they have been sharing a supposedly monogamous relationship with the same man - Blake Allen (Robert Downey jr), a struggling actor. They break into his apartment and prepare to surprise Blake. The ensuing confrontation offers insights into relationships in the '90's, and questions the concept of honesty between men and women.

This low budget three-hander talk-fest was shot in a New York loft apartment over a period of eleven days, and its deliberately minimalist style gives it the look and feel of a filmed play. The action takes place on one set, and centres around the three main characters questioning the dynamics of their relationships. The film begins promisingly enough, but after the first twenty minutes or so it seems to run out of steam. From then it struggles to retain the audience's attention. There's the gist of a good short film struggling to get out here.

Many of the scenes seem improvised, and it's almost as if director James Toback (The Pick-Up Artist, etc) shot the actors work-shopping their characters through various scenarios. The fairly straight forward plot is unbalanced by many other elements that jar and seem misjudged. There is an unnecessary sex scene that seems inspired by 9 And 1/2 Weeks. The dialogue is gratuitously frank, and peppered with casual obscenities, but lacks genuine wit.

Then there is Blake's ailing mother, who becomes almost a fourth character in the drama. Although she is never seen or heard from, her presence is nonetheless felt, and her character often serves to diffuse many of the volatile tensions and emotions that surface. The poignant ending also seems like a desperate contrivance to elicit some sympathy for Blake, a man behaving very badly.

Downey's performance is sensational, which is not surprising since writer/director Toback created the role especially for him. However, Toback fails to provide any sort of definite resolution to the situation he has established, and most audiences will walk away feeling disappointed.

Copyright 1998 Greg King

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