Odd little indie "The Big Shot-Caller," starring writer-director Marlene Rhein and her brother David, is based on a true story (guess whose).

Odd little indie “The Big Shot-Caller,” starring writer-director Marlene Rhein and her brother David, is based on a true story (guess whose). “Inspirational” pic, concerning a morose accountant with a spastic eye disorder who belatedly finds himself by salsa dancing with his sister, teems with anomalies that could only stem from reality. The result is a rough-edged, head-scratching mix of tones. Fortunately, musicvideo vet Rhein’s competent helming skills counterbalance her off-putting dialogue and flat acting style so that the pic, which opens May 15 at Gotham’s Quad, doesn’t come off strictly amateur.

Many of the film’s elements are familiar, from “Strictly Ballroom,” “Shall We Dance,” “Dirty Dancing,” et. al. — so much so that the myriad weirdness winging in from left field feels all the more unexpected. Such strangeness includes a fat, vulgar Jewish father (Robert Costanzo), a Rosie Perez-type Latina g.f. (Laneya Wiles) and a slutty sister (Rhein) with her alternately mocked and espoused belief in God (the “Big Shot-Caller” of the title). Voiceover third-person narration in Spanish completes the off-kilter mix.

The Big Shot-Caller

Production

A Stella Films release of a Stella Films production. Produced by Christine Giorgio. Co-producer, Erika Yeomans. Directed, written by Marlene Rhein.

Crew

Camera (color, widescreen, DigiBeta), Paolo Cascio; editor, Christine Giorgio; music, Justin Asher; art director, Mel Puerto. Reviewed on DVD, New York, May 8, 2009. Running time: 92 MIN.

With

David Rhein, Marlene Rhein, Laneya Wiles, Robert Costanzo, Leslie Eva Glaser.
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