Mr. Right

A sprightly "hom-rom-com," as this gay romantic comedy bills itself, "Mr. Right" interweaves the travails of three London couples as they navigate the rocky shoals of commitment. Tyro sister/brother helmers Jacqui and David Morris deal deftly with the latter's blithe script, steering a delicate course between emotional soap opera and tart comedy of manners. Solid ensemble thesping, clever production design and a strong sense of Soho lift this engaging romp above its low-budget brethren. "Mr. Right" should score well with gay auds, and its likable characters with classy Brit accents might even entice some hetero crossover.

With:
With: Luke de Woolfson, Rocky Marshall, James Lance, Leon Ockenden, David Morris, Benjamin Hart, Georgia Zaris, Maddie Planer, Jeremy Edwards.

A sprightly “hom-rom-com,” as this gay romantic comedy bills itself, “Mr. Right” interweaves the travails of three London couples as they navigate the rocky shoals of commitment. Tyro sister/brother helmers Jacqui and David Morris deal deftly with the latter’s blithe script, steering a delicate course between emotional soap opera and tart comedy of manners. Solid ensemble thesping, clever production design and a strong sense of Soho lift this engaging romp above its low-budget brethren. “Mr. Right” should score well with gay auds, and its likable characters with classy Brit accents might even entice some hetero crossover.

Pic is narrated and bookended by Louise (Georgia Zaris), who has a coterie of paired-up guy friends and whose own heterosexual partner himself falls prey to the greater magnetism of gay attraction.

Louise’s best pal, Alex (Luke de Woolfson), a working-class caterer/actor, has found love and security with upper-class reality TV producer Harry (James Lance). Art dealer William (Rocky Marshall) is falling head over heels with soap actor Lawrence (Leon Ockenden) while trying to juggle the demands of his precociously, cheerfully ghoulish daughter (Maddie Planer). And professionally gay artist Tom (scripter Morris) clings to his hustler-in-residence, Lars (Benjamin Hart), who barely even bothers to feign fidelity.

A disastrous dinner party sends all of the couples reeling, as pent-up tensions force the partners out of their comfort zones and into deeper waters.

The Morrises don’t so much avoid stereotypes as establish them as patterns the characters can fall back on or fight their way free of. Alex’s naive acceptance of the lead role in a fascistic play about Malthus unleashes a predictable firestorm of protest, but instead of seeking emotional comfort, he explores a previously unfelt need for economic independence. Tom, on the other hand (Morris reserves the most ridiculous role for himself), remains tightly wedded to a certain concept of queerness that defines everything: After his most recent love-for-hire dumps him, he has no recourse but to repeat the same exact setup with a new partner.

Pic creates a self-contained, well-to-do, feel-good universe where pure intentions and tolerance will heal all wounds and open all doors, where class is solely a matter of outlook and where poverty and violence hold no sway. But what “Mr. Right” lacks in edge or tension, it counters with smartly delivered, only slightly self-congratulatory wit.

Mr. Right

Production: A Mugshots production. Produced by Jacqui Morris. Directed by Jacqui Morris, David Morris. Screenplay, David Morris.

Crew: Camera (color, HD), Michael Wood; editor, Warren Meneely; music, Jacqueline Croft; production designer, Malin Lindholm; costume designer, Clare Harries; sound (Dolby Digital), Catherine Patten; casting, Sasha Robertson, Anna Kennedy. Reviewed at NewFest, New York, June 4, 2009. Running time: 94 MIN.

With: With: Luke de Woolfson, Rocky Marshall, James Lance, Leon Ockenden, David Morris, Benjamin Hart, Georgia Zaris, Maddie Planer, Jeremy Edwards.

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