Conventional handling of what could have been a resonant and intriguingly ambiguous relationship drama turns "Hale Bopp" into a forgettable blur. Minor and mid-range fests will come calling, but serious theatrical commitments are unlikely.

Conventional handling of what could have been a resonant and intriguingly ambiguous relationship drama turns “Hale Bopp” into a forgettable blur. One can sense pic’s aspirations to be a complex portrait of young Chicagoans at cross-purposes with each other, but the choices by writer-director Chris Rubeo and his cast tend to limit the excitement. Minor and mid-range fests will come calling, but serious theatrical commitments are unlikely.

Rubeo casually introduces a circle of designers better at planning buildings or taking photos than dealing with love. Ethan (Brad Eric Johnson), in from D.C. to work on friend Neil’s (John Stoops) casino project, rubs shoulders with party-gal Rachel (Andrea Mustain), triggering an on-again, off-again affair. The two are obviously not suited for each other –he’s got his act is together, but she’s a walking disaster — yet the film feels duty-bound to contrive to unite them at the end. Complications with Rachel’s jealous roomie Bart (John Jordan) are underdeveloped, while performances tend to be more mannered than genuine.

Hale Bopp

Production

A Movable Feast Prods. and Jigsaw Pictures presentation. Produced by Steve Parker, Jeanine Rohn. Executive producers, James A. Knepper, Dennis Kibby. Directed, written, edited by Chris Rubeo.

Crew

Camera (color, DV), Steve Parker; music, Anders Parker, Varnaline; production designer, Andy Mason; art director, Ashley Smith; costume designers, Tanja Deshida, Stacy Ellen Rich. Reviewed on videodisc, L.A., Aug. 15, 2003. (In Dances With Films.) Running time: 91 MIN.

With

Andrea Mustain, Brad Eric Johnson, John Jordan, John Stoops, Ginifer King.
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