Review: ‘Town Diary’

A TV producer's return to his East Islip, N.Y. hometown to make a "reality" program turns into an unlikely murder investigation in "Town Diary." What first appears to be a character portrait about Brian Macauley (David Andrews) takes an uneasy and forced turn into genre narrative, unearthing a conspiracy plot far too involved for the modest pic. There's an artistic softness to the production that won't serve it well on the marketing front, where slight fest exposure and even slighter cable offers are the best that may be expected.

A TV producer’s return to his East Islip, N.Y. hometown to make a “reality” program turns into an unlikely murder investigation in “Town Diary.” What first appears to be a character portrait about Brian Macauley (David Andrews) takes an uneasy and forced turn into genre narrative, unearthing a conspiracy plot far too involved for the modest pic. There’s an artistic softness to the production that won’t serve it well on the marketing front, where slight fest exposure and even slighter cable offers are the best that may be expected.

Making segments for “Town Diary” syndie series that weave home movies with town residents’ memories, Brian selects his home burg as a subject, and settles into work with new assistant Veronica (Brette Taylor). Dramatic set-ups with his parents and ex-wife suggest a man who has fallen short of his potential. But when amateur sleuth Jon (Robert Hogan) pitches Brian on a long-ago death that seems to involve powerful locals, pic proceeds like a wan episode of “Unsolved Mysteries.”

Town Diary

Production

An Imagination Colony/Left Handed League production. Produced by John J. Bruno, Jack Kenny, Jason Lamkey. Co-producer, Chris Kelley. Directed by Jack Kenny. Screenplay, Kenny, John J. Bruno; story, Kenny.

Crew

Camera (Duart color), John Rosnell; editor, Karla Svatos; production designer, Bridget Evans; art director, Terry Dunlop; costume designer, Susan Soetart. Reviewed on videotape, L.A., April 27, 2003. (In Method Festival.) Running time: 100 MIN.

With

David Andrews, Brette Taylor, Terry O'Quinn, Luke Reilly, John Speredakos, Robert Hogan, Angelica Torn, Don Leslie, Walt MacPherson, Anne Grindlay, Amber Gross, Mikel Sarah Lambert, Catherine Gaffigan, Kevin Hagan.
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