Review: ‘5 Card Stud’

Writer/co-star Lawrence H. Toffler and director Hank Saroyan have forged a perfect example of everything that's wrong with American indie filmmaking with "5 Card Stud."

Writer/co-star Lawrence H. Toffler and director Hank Saroyan have forged a perfect example of everything that’s wrong with American indie filmmaking with “5 Card Stud.” Whether it’s the soap opera-style love matters; depiction of the central guy as “normal” while his pals are clownish; the need for a happy ending; or the decision of the screenwriter to not only cast himself in the lead but to play a character who is himself a screenwriter — these and other troublesome indie pic traits are on full display here. All bets are off for a post-fest commercial run.

Unaccountably prodded by married pal Paul (Kevin McClatchy) into dating attractive neighbor Aly (Khrystyne Haje), struggling screenwriter and single nice guy Greg (Toffler) finds himself falling in love with her, even though she’s still in a long-term though unsatisfying relationship. Greg’s dull, predictable misadventures are punctuated with regular poker games with his buddies, including an agent (Steven Houska) who provides Greg with script development notes such as the poignant comment that his latest draft is “not interesting.”

5 Card Stud

Production

A Stud Films presentation. Produced by Chantel Sausedo. Executive producer, Lawrence H. Toffler. Directed by Hank Saroyan. Screenplay, Lawrence H. Toffler.

Crew

Camera (Laser-Pacific Media color), Bry Thomas Sanders; editor, David R. Baron; music, Paul Carbonara; production designer, Majken Larssen; costume designer, Mia Gyzander. Reviewed on videotape, L.A., Aug. 15, 2002. (In Dances With Films Festival.) Running time: 96 MIN.

With

Khrystyne Haje, Lawrence H. Toffler, Kevin McClatchy, Jeff Parise, Steven Houska, Brian Everett, Chantel Sausedo, Landon Wine, Doris Hess.
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