Moving in Moving Out

"Moving in Moving Out" is a desultory romantic-comedy trot through two-lonely-people-in-the-big-city terrain. It's undistinguished by the minor fillip that the expected meet-cute-and-happily-ever-after never quite happens; commercial prospects will also prove elusive.

With:
Leonard ..... Michael Ringer Mona ..... Cara Wall Devin ..... Abby Abernathy Cassie ..... Liz Haverty Michael ..... Bill Graber Cosmo ..... Alex Jorge Super ..... Pietro Gonzalez Randy ..... Renee Starkey

“Moving in Moving Out” is a desultory romantic-comedy trot through two-lonely-people-in-the-big-city terrain. It’s undistinguished by the minor fillip that the expected meet-cute-and-happily-ever-after never quite happens; commercial prospects will also prove elusive.

Mona (Cara Wall) is a fresh-faced small-town arrival in Manhattan, day-jobbing as a magazine research assistant while dreaming of getting her poetry published. Scruffy Leonard (Michael Ringer) pays his rent by washing dishes, but his obsession is dumpster-diving for objects used in his multimedia artworks. Their East Village flats are separated by one thin wall. Mutual curiosity, even spying, soon sets in. But neither is bold enough to initiate communication until the chance for romance has expired.

Character idiosyncrasies are sketched so much by rote that the abrupt finish seems less poignant than misguided; sole, mild suspense hinges on protags’ long-stalled interaction, which then comes to naught. Minor subplots are provided by workplace intrigue; flashbacks to Leonard’s sad childhood (raised by a wino dad) partly explain his illiteracy and poor social skills, but script doesn’t make much of those hurdles. For her part, Mona is left so routinely perky that we can only imagine her poetry would be odes to butterflies and newborn puppies.

Complete with the required oops-I-dropped-something mutual head-butt gag, pic wavers between by-the-numbers seriocomic fodder and gimmickry that feels like padding (as in a montage in which duo “synchronize” their percussive beating on walls, against paint buckets, etc.). More visual interest could have been eked from eventual development that both Mona and Leonard create arty collage “wailing walls” on each side of their shared partition.

Lead actors are OK within script limits, support players often shrilly stereotypical. Technically, prod (shot in both NYC and Boston) is unexceptional. “Moving in Moving Out” wants only to be quirky and charming — but personality is just what’s absent in this generic effort.

Moving in Moving Out

Production: A Maverick Partners LP presentation in association with Manner Maker Films. Produced by Ken Hamm, Anne Chaisson. Directed, screenplay by Hamm.

Crew: Camera (color, 16mm), T.W. Li; editor, Duncan Pettigrew; music, Andrew Hollander; production design, Chad Detwiller; costumes, Sarah Pheiffer, Lisa Engler; associate producer, Jonathan Ladd; line producer, Jonathan Judge. Reviewed at the Roxie Cinema, San Francisco, Sept. 15, 1997. (In Mill Valley Film Festival.) Running time: 86 MIN.

With: Leonard ..... Michael Ringer Mona ..... Cara Wall Devin ..... Abby Abernathy Cassie ..... Liz Haverty Michael ..... Bill Graber Cosmo ..... Alex Jorge Super ..... Pietro Gonzalez Randy ..... Renee Starkey

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