Smartly written, ably performed and keenly observed, "Spin the Bottle" is a delectable character study that finds five friends in their 20s reuniting for the first time since childhood. Inevitable "Big Chill" comparisons aside, pic's a fresh and at times shocking study of friendship, loyalty and sexual identity among the Gen-X set. Tautly directed and effectively mounted, it has the immediacy and pared-down feel of good theater. A no-name cast makes theatrical release a long shot, but further festival play should help garner attention and more work for the cast and helmer Jamie Yerkes.

Smartly written, ably performed and keenly observed, “Spin the Bottle” is a delectable character study that finds five friends in their 20s reuniting for the first time since childhood. Inevitable “Big Chill” comparisons aside, pic’s a fresh and at times shocking study of friendship, loyalty and sexual identity among the Gen-X set. Tautly directed and effectively mounted, it has the immediacy and pared-down feel of good theater. A no-name cast makes theatrical release a long shot, but further festival play should help garner attention and more work for the cast and helmer Jamie Yerkes.

Over the course of the weekend reunion, the friends discover revealing, sometimes embarrassing details and painful secrets about one another. Pic’s centerpiece is a game of spin-the-bottle that prompts many of these disclosures. Effectively staged, the game works as catalyst and metaphor both. Columnist Amy Sohn’s sharp, literate script balances humor and poignancy, wisely saving a couple of revelations for the final reel. Characters are nicely etched and well delineated. Thesps all around are strong, especially Heather Goldenhersch as an insightful, self-deprecating outsider. Pic’s thrifty, low-budget look complements its premise.

Spin the Bottle

(COMEDY-DRAMA)

Production

A Cineblast! production. Produced by Kristen Homsher, Jamie Yerkes. Executive producers, Gill Holland, Kevin Chinoy. Directed by Jamie Yerkes. Screenplay, Amy Sohn. Camera (Duart color), Harlan Bosmajian; editors, Josh Apter, Jamie Yerkes; music, Andy Brick; production designer, Johanna Belson; art director, Liz Carney; casting, Catherine Riggs, Mary Clay Boland. Reviewed on videocassette, March 26, 1999. (In Santa Barbara Film Festival.) Running time: 82 MIN.

With

With: Mitchell Riggs, Kim Winter, Jessica Faller, Heather Goldenhersch, Holter Graham.
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