A labored portrait of young Angelenos searching for relationships, "Some Girls" falls short of the promise director Rory Kelly showed in his debut effort, "Sleep With Me," which also dealt with love, infidelity and self abasement among the under 30 set.

A labored portrait of young Angelenos searching for relationships, “Some Girls” falls short of the promise director Rory Kelly showed in his debut effort, “Sleep With Me,” which also dealt with love, infidelity and self abasement among the under 30 set. But whereas “Sleep With Me” managed to make its essentially unsympathetic characters intriguingly complex, new pic is felled by a thoroughly unlikable bunch of central characters whom even decent dialogue and a few funny scenes cannot render appealing. Nevertheless, recognizable cast, buoyed by an appealing soundtrack, could spell limited theatrical play in specialized markets.

Oddly enough, pic is written by and largely about women, but the central femmes portrayed are every man’s nightmare. The women are by turns humorless, back stabbing, cat fighting, self flagellating or nymphomaniacal. A dash of levity or even some self-irony would have made the characterizations infinitely more palatable and given the audience’s emotional investment a boost.

At the center of the story is hopeless romantic, desperately insecure Claire (co-scripter Marissa Ribisi). Still healing from her last breakup, Claire meets the smooth talking Chad (Jeremy Sisto). But Claire would have been well advised to listen to her best friend, April (Juliette Lewis), whose dire warnings about Chad turn out to be true.

April is no better. Cheating relentlessly on her steady boyfriend, Neil (a sympathetic Michael Rapaport), April habitually finds herself awakening in the beds of strange men. And when she levels the ultimate insult at Claire, April initially displays little capacity for remorse. There’s so little here to redeem the leads that, if forced to choose between the self-deprecating Claire and the self-serving April, viewers may call it a draw.

Ironically, writers Ribisi and Brie Shaffer give some of their best material to supporting male players. Sisto is appealing as the slippery Chad, and Giovanni Ribisi, as Claire’s brother Jason, turns a small part into a standout performance with his on target comic timing and wry wit.

Helmer Kelly manages to wrest humor — often sexual — from situations, whether it be Jason giving his younger brother a lesson on female anatomy in the form of a papaya, or Claire’s friends advising her on unusual oral sex techniques.

Film’s best element is its eminently marketable contempo soundtrack.

Some Girls

Production

A Millennium Films presentation in association with Nu Image of a Virile production. Produced by Boaz Davidson, Abra Edelman, Gay Ribisi. Executive producers, John Thompson, Avi Lerner. Co producers, John King, Josh Woodward. Directed by Rory Kelly. Screenplay, Marissa Ribisi, Brie Shaffer.

Crew

Camera (color), Amy Vincent; editor, Melissa Kent; music supervisor, Bill Ewart; production designer, Martina Buckley; art director, Ivana Letica; set designer, Eric Steinway, set decorators, Marjory Graue, Gabrielle Campion; costume designers, Isis Mussenden, Denise Martinez; assistant director, Michael Shea; casting, Elisa Goodman. Reviewed at L.A. Independent Film Festival, April 19, 1998. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Claire - Marissa Ribisi April - Juliette Lewis Jason - Giovanni Ribisi Chad - Jeremy Sisto Jenn - Pamela Segall Suzanne - Kristin Datillo Neil - Michael Rapaport Mitchell - David Gail
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