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DIRECTED BY: Miles Doleac
FEATURING: Lindsay Anne Williams, Miles Doleac, Jeremy London, Elena Sanchez, Amber Reign Smith
PLOT: Kristina comes to regret pursuing her long-time fantasy of dating her teen idol when she and her husband explore sharing an open marriage.
COMMENTS: Be advised: if you have an aversion to New Wave music, you will want to avoid this movie. Over its run time, there are some dozen or so interludes featuring ’80s style studio music videos wherein Kristina Corbin’s subconscious processes her situational and emotional circumstances. Her youthful dream of fronting a glamorous synth-rock band is the pulsing heart of this quietly satisfying romantic comedy, and while the segues slip into the narrative like clockwork, they never feel unwelcome.
Ultimately unwelcome, however, is Erik LaRoux, an erstwhile teen idol whom Kristina adored growing up. When she and husband Robert’s marriage hits the rocks—triggered by a recent miscarriage—they are unsure how to proceed. They feel, they know—it must be!—that they’re good together, and that they shouldn’t split up the metaphorical band; but they’ll be damned if they can figure out what direction to go. And so, Kristina makes a suggestion: an open relationship. The first act of Play runs like a cute-‘n’-clever little relationship dramedy, with Kristina hooking up with a charismatic has-been, and Robert falling in bed with a long-time friend.
Open is very much an “all well and good” kind of experience. It shuffles along, capably attaining its realistic ambitions. The characters are all likable (even Erik, before his dark turn) and the songs hover around the better side of average. Sometimes the band is mediocre, other times they flirt with genius. (The tune “Aspic” merits bonus points for the choral couplet, “Damn it to Hell, get me out of this stinking putrid well/I need some elevation for my aspic to gel,” a line which prompts the husband-keyboardist character to exclaim, “‘Aspic’? Really?”) Even when it begins to flounder in the third act, Open is still charmingly executed.
In the end, I was kind of surprised—in a good way. When the closing number queued up, I was hit with the sentiment, “It’s over already?” So, be advised: anyone looking for a fun, mature, and tuneful romantic comedy would do well to take a look at and listen to Open. It’s got heart, brio, and plenty of good advice: “Grab love by the balls, but don’t twist ’em too hard when you feel small.”
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY:
“Doleac, whose previous features have been horrors of deliciously demented delicacies, tries his hand at a quirky musical thriller – and the result is completely darling and truly absorbing.”–Bill Arceneaux, Moviegoing with Bill (festival screening)