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movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: XX/XY

Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Kathleen Robertson
Director: Austin Chick
Rated: R
RunTime: 91 Minutes
Release Date: April 2003
Genres: Drama, Erotica, Romance

*Also starring: Maya Stange, Joey Kern, Zach Shaffer, Petra Wright

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Austin Chick's XX/XY is a perceptive and intriguing film about relationships. Although this story about young adults, which is set in two different time frames, concerns three couples -- plus or minus a few boyfriends that didn't work out -- it is centered on a quiet and reserved charmer named Coles.

In another of his wonderfully understated performances, Mark Ruffalo plays Coles. Ruffalo is an actor that you can really rely on, so it is appropriate that his most famous role was in the indie hit, YOU CAN COUNT ON ME. Count on him to create a never-ending series of characters who will ultimately earn your sympathy and affection. In XX/XY, he is surrounded by an ensemble cast that keeps the picture from ever dissolving into a one-man show. You'll end up liking them all even if some of them may irritate you at first.

The first half of the movie occurs during 1993 and is set on a college campus. It is there that Coles meets Sam, the love of his life, played fetchingly by Maya Stange, who looks a bit like Sarah Polley's sister. Their chemistry together is genuine and a bit unusual, since they both initially shun commitments. Sam, for example, is happy to go to bed with Coles when she first meets him, but she asks if Thea (Kathleen Robertson), her wild girlfriend, could join them in the sack. With a look of this is too good to be true, Coles allows as how he'd be up to a m‚nage … trios with two gorgeous gals. This initial fling may be fun for the three of them, but it ends up causing trouble on down the line. The sexual experimentation's instigator, Sam, finds that she's much more comfortable with monogamy.

After the three have gone their separate ways, the second half of the movie rejoins them as they reunite in Manhattan a decade later with each of them in what appears to be permanent relationships with other people. Coles is in the process of celebrating his fifth anniversary with his live-in girlfriend, Claire (Petra Wright). Thea is married to Miles (David Thornton), and Sam is engaged to Jonathan (Joshua Spafford). Coles, however, still has the hots for Sam, a feeling that he appears less likely to lose than having his foot fall off. He may be a successful Yuppie with his own series of commercials hawking tacos, but his real life occurs not in the office but deep within the hidden confines of his heart, which pines for Sam.

Both parts of the movie are successful, but the characters prove to be more fully developed and interesting in the last half. The biggest tribute that I can pay to the picture is to admit that I was sorry to see it end. I wanted to know more about these people and what happened to them later. If a sequel is ever made, I'll be the first in line to see it.

XX/XY runs 1:31. It is rated R for "sexuality, language, and brief drug use" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes

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