True to its title, this micro-budget, Brooklyn-set romantic comedy indeed keeps it simple.

True to its title, this micro-budget, Brooklyn-set romantic comedy indeed keeps it simple, hewing closely to boy-meets-girl formulas with genuine flair and wit. Granted, the obstacles along the central duo’s rocky road to coupledom are untraditionally somber: She has lupus, he’s stuck at home caring for his wheelchair-bound father. Both lie through their teeth to avoid rejection, triggering fabrications that farcically crumble and implode. First-time writer-director Mark von Sternberg’s modest but engaging neighborhood pic could build cred on the fest circuit before tube play.

The pic establishes early on exactly why Adam (Francisco Solorzano) and Seta (Patrizia Hernandez) feel obliged to hide their true situations from each other after meeting at the local Laundromat. Seta, a wide red rash bisecting her face, emerges from the doctor’s office to find her latest b.f. has fled. Meanwhile, Adam and his soon-to-be-ex-g.f. perch uneasily on the family sofa, surrounded by creepy Victorian dolls straight out of a horror film, when his dad, James (vet playwright/screenwriter Israel Horovitz), staggers in coughing, dragging his oxygen tank behind him.

Horovitz wields well-honed acting chops in surprisingly nonstereotypical father-son exchanges, and Solorzano and Hernandez grace their star-crossed lovers with shy charm.

Each half of the couple comes equipped with a cynical sidekick, proffering romantic advice of the “tell the truth,” “be yourself” variety while remaining firmly committed to bed-hopping hedonism: Adam’s longtime bud, Jesse (John Harlacher) — teacher by day, lothario by night — reluctantly lends his upscale apartment to further Adam’s frantic fictions, while Seta’s glamorous homegirl, Keith (Caitlin FitzGerald), tries to talk her illness-denying friend out of dangerous open-air jaunts. If not exactly Eve Arden and Jack Carson, these gifted second bananas add enormously to the pic’s pace, making for a sprightly contrast to the foot-dragging reluctance of the leads.

Von Sternberg (a name to conjure with) maps out his Park Slope neighborhood, with its brownstones, parks and semi-industrial cityscapes, less as a backdrop than as a collection of stopping places on the lovers’ itinerary — presided over by locals happy to chime in or simply to observe. Tech credits are solid within the HD-shot pic’s unassuming limits.

Love Simple

Production

A Cubicle Warrior production. Produced by Dave Buchwald, David Kempski, Mark von Sternberg. Directed, written by Mark von Sternberg.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Lance Kaplan; editor, Dave Buchwald; music, Danny Mordujovich; art director, David Ogle; costume designer, Victoria Malvagno; sound, Wade Vantrease. Reviewed at New York Latin Film Festival, Aug. 2, 2009. Running time: 86 MIN.

With

Francisco Solorzano, Patrizia Hernandez, John Harlacher, Caitlin FitzGerald, Israel Horovitz.
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