Review: ‘Loose Women’

The future looks pretty bleak for "Loose Women," Paul F. Bernard's disappointing feature directorial debut, a Gotham-set tale of friendship and bonding among three sexy twentysomething women.

The future looks pretty bleak for “Loose Women,” Paul F. Bernard’s disappointing feature directorial debut, a Gotham-set tale of friendship and bonding among three sexy twentysomething women. Marred by tedious melodrama and a weak central performance by Sherry Ham, who’s also the screenwriter (and the helmer’s wife), pic may travel some of the regional film festivals, but looms as a commercial nonstarter.

With the current cycle of film explorations of white guys walking and talking about love and sex, including “Beautiful Girls” and “Swingers,” the premise of “Loose Women” is terrific, but the execution is horrific, particularly the amateurish thesping of most of the actresses.

Yarn centers on Rachel (Ham), an alluring red-haired femme, whose impending 30th birthday signals identity crisis with a capital C. A struggling actress with a love life that leaves a lot to be desired, she greets at the train station her out-of-town friend Tracy (Marialisa Costanzo), a sexy brunette who’s also an aspiring actress. Rachel lives in Manhattan’s East Village with roommate Gail (Melissa Errico), an appealing school teacher who on the surface seems to be the most stable of the trio.

Set over a weekend, pic chronicles the (mis)adventures of the three women as they try to overcome the many loose ends in their lives. With its funky settings, “Loose Women” is meant to be a contempo romp of swinging life in the Big Apple, sort of a 1990s “Desperately Seeking Susan.” But after the first reel, tale changes gears radically and turns into a laborious meller about discovering “truths” and learning “life lessons” about self and others.

Not surprisingly, Gail, seemingly the most rooted character, turns out to be a victim of incest and a prostitute by night. She’s contrasted with her yuppie sister, Ann (Amy Alexandra Lloyd), an obnoxiously ambitious politician, who’s also a victim of abuse. Their mother, Mrs. Hayes (Robin Strasser), is a stiff upper-class woman with her own tormented past. The confrontational scenes between the rivaling sisters, and especially those between Gail and her monstrous mom, are irritating and drag the film to a dreary, TV-movie-like level.

The male characters don’t feature much better. Gay viewers might be offended by the stereotypical portrayal of two supposedly flamboyant hairdressers (played as cameos by Giancarlo Esposito and Keith David).

Worst aspect of the production is its atrocious acting by most of the female ensemble, particularly Costanzo and Ham, who looks good but sounds as if she’s imitating Melanie Griffith’s tiny voice. In a monologue that’s meant to strike the same funny note as Quentin Tarantino’s in “Sleep With Me,” Charlie Sheen, playing a character called “the Barbie Doll bartender,” is totally off, arresting what little energy the movie had strenuously gathered.

Loose Women

Production

An Inmotion Entertainment production. Produced by Chris Matonti, Paul F. Bernard. Executive producers, J.D. Matonti, James Scura. Directed by Paul F. Bernard. Screenplay, Sherry Ham.

Crew

Camera (color), Peter Reniers; editor, Marie Pierre Renaud; music, Pat Irwin; music supervisor, Brian Ross; production design, Tim Sheedy, Andy Bernard; art direction, Georges N. Krivobok; costume design, Soosie Johnston, Susan Guenther Goldstein; sound, William Kozy; associate producers, Mathew Dunne, Peter Reniers, Michael Luceri. Reviewed at Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, Nov. 9, 1996. Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Rachel - Sherry Ham Gail - Melissa Errico Tracy - Marialisa Costanzo Jack - Corey Glover Detective Laurent - Tom Verica Ann - Amy Alexandra Lloyd Mrs. Hayes - Robin Strasser
With: Keith David, Giancarlo Esposito, Charlie Sheen. Stephan Lang.
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