Teasingly unpredictable and carelessly uneven in equal measure, “I’ll Come Running” is a curious Texas-Denmark, semi-romantic-comedy/semi-tragedy hybrid that could have used some fine-tuning. First feature by Austin, Texas-based helmer Spencer Parsons is dedicated to discovering new spins and emotional tones in familiar hookup-and-aftermath material, which, with the Danish setting of the second half, gives the film an unusual flavor for an American indie. A good perf from up-and-coming thesp Melonie Diaz might provide enough oomph to earn the pic a toehold in specialized release in select markets, although its main audience awaits down the line in cable and DVD.
A shroud of glibness hangs lightly over this tale of a visiting Danish lad whose final lusty night in San Antonio sets the stage for an unanticipated journey for the young waitress he leaves behind. Script by Parsons and Line Langebek Knudsen sometimes seems so intent on doing the unexpected that it simply feels forced, even if the events that unfold are no more unlikely than a dozen contrivances in a typical Hollywood picture.
At the end of a long U.S. tour in the company of two boisterous buddies, Pelle (Jon Lange) makes worthwhile his decision to stay on for an extra weekend by scoring with Mexican restaurant worker Veronica (Diaz). The twentyish duo make an attractive but oddly matched pair — he’s tall, slim, very Northern Euro, she’s a curvy, almost squat Latina — and the banter, low-key flirtations and increasingly sweaty physical exchanges between them possess a credible spontaneity.
Nicknaming each other Milhouse and Lisa after “The Simpsons” characters, they have as much sex as possible until it’s time for Pelle — who, as a kid TV star, has been famous most of his life in Denmark — to go home. An altogether startling surprise, the revelation of which would constitute an unconscionable spoiler, at the 48-minute mark sends the picture and Veronica on an unplanned trip to Pelle’s hometown of Aarhus, where she meets Pelle’s parents as well as his best friend, Soren (Christian Tafdrup), who injects himself into Veronica’s life in strange psychological ways.
The randy, sometimes excessively reckless feel of the opening American stretch is replaced by a more somber, perplexing and deadpan tenor in the Danish section, in which Veronica improvises to cope with circumstances that are highly unlikely and yet odd enough to sustain viewer interest. Dramatically, the script’s quirkiness outweighs its credibility, to the film’s detriment, but then, no one can object that they’ve seen this story before, either.
A further shortcoming is the haphazard camera style, especially in the Texas section. Many shots seem random, offered up without thought to composition, lighting or even proper focus. Visually, Parsons seems forever in search of the telling “moment,” but the film’s technical facility is several rungs down the ladder from the dialogue and performances.
Diaz, who has shown solid promise in such indie features as “Raising Victor Vargas,” “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints,” “Be Kind Rewind” and the upcoming “Hamlet 2,” provides “I’ll Come Running” with its greatest source of stability as Veronica charts emotional and geographic waters far from familiar shores. Lange has a seemingly inbred self-satisfied air entirely in keeping with his character’s status as a lifelong celebrity, while Tafdrup’s Soren is downright creepy in an original way.
Pic derives its title from a Brian Eno song.