The text in Daniel Yost’s dreadful directorial debut, “Love & Sex Etc.,” is so tediously banal that it’s hard to believe it was penned by the same person who wrote “Drugstore Cowboy,” one of the indie cinema highlights of the past decade. After a week of a theatrical warm-up, this embarrassing pic will quickly fly to video stores, where it’s bound to accumulate a lot of dust.
Improvisation is to be encouraged in film only if the actors are extremely gifted and if the premise for their ad-lib exercises is at least potentially interesting. But, alas, this is not case of “Love & Sex Etc.,” a verbose academic workout.
Based on improvs by actors Sal Landi and Marie Caldare and supplemented by interviews with thirtysomething singles, the film is meant to offer a quirky, provocative look at the always timely issues of love and sex.
A modern-day Casanova, Joe (Landi) thrives on one-night stands because they preclude complications and commitment. On one of his nightly cruisings, he meets an attractive and friendly woman named Julie (Caldare), who invites him to her place.
They start to have sex in the bathroom, but an argument about condoms stops their wild activity and they begin to talk — and talk and talk. What follows is an excruciatingly painful evening, during which every possible cliche about gender is raised and contested, including men’s “natural” defiance of monogamy, analogies between human and animal behavior, the merits of polygamy, and even a demonstration of the different ways men and women urinate.
Technically, pic is adequate, though Yost has his performers go up and down the staircase of a huge house, with the camera switching arbitrarily from low angle to high angle,for no apparent reason other than making his prosaic exercise seem more “cinematic.”