Two young lovers drift into trouble in “The Learning Curve,” a poorly conceived first feature from writer-helmer Eric Schwab, who’s been second unit director on Brian De Palma’s films of the last decade. Unable from the start to stake out a coherent path as crime thriller or amour fou character study, uninvolving pic wobbles tonally for too long before throwing up its hands and simply offing most of the cast in a prolonged shootout. Theatrical prospects are marginal; this looks likelier as a cable TV time-filler.
Beauteous, smart-mouthed blonde Georgia (Monet Mazur), out drinking with some gal pals, is saved from a bar pickup’s aggressive advances by passerby Paul (Mark Hamill look-alike Carmine Giovinazzo), a brooding hospital janitor. They click, sharing a taste for thrills; for a while, they fund their frolics by having Georgia bait men, then cry rape and shake down the mark for hush money. But this is unpleasant work, so they decide to pull a car-accident scam instead. The first target, however, doesn’t buy it; shady record-company owner Marshal (Vincent Ventresca) turns tables on the pair, then decides to take them under his wing as his new flunkies.
Soon Paul is living the drugged-out high life a little too extensively, while Georgia bridles at her role in the blackmailing of city officials who’ve blocked Marshal’s music-minimall development plans. It all implodes in a club schmooze that becomes an FBI sting, followed by lengthy gun-waving foot chase.
Unconvincing screenplay provides no character backstories whatsoever, beyond a suggestion that Georgia is fleeing her father’s sexual abuse. (She’s still living at home, and at one point says she’s “not old enough to vote” — but the thesp looks about 30.) We’re presumably meant to see the two protags as doomed wild-at-heart types, but pic milks scant chemistry between them; haphazard narrative never builds any tension, supporting turns are cardboard, and despite his De Palma connection, Schwab doesn’t display much flair for visual kineticism. The result is pulp without juice — neither credible nor enjoyably over-the-top. Lensing is variable in $ 1 million production’s uninspired tech package; filler-heavy soundtrack features cuts by U2 and other pop artists.