The Misanthrope

A good idea is poorly developed and amateurishly executed in "The Misanthrope," writer-helmer Allen Colombo's contempo spin on the classic Moliere comedy. Centering on a curmudgeonly elementary school teacher who brings his dreams of thespian glory to bear on pre-adolescent charges, low-budget feature is too unfocused and sloppy.

With:
With: Ali Farahnakian, Albena Dodeva, Jennifer Joan Taylor, Joan-Yvette Gonzalez, L. A. Melendez, Eastman Presser, Ned Baker.

The germ of a good idea is poorly developed and amateurishly executed in “The Misanthrope,” writer-helmer Allen Colombo’s contempo spin on the classic Moliere comedy. Centering on a curmudgeonly elementary school teacher who brings his dreams of thespian glory to bear on pre-adolescent charges, low-budget feature is too unfocused and sloppy in presentation to exploit its promising concept, let alone brave commercial waters.

Proud if deluded, 5th-grade teacher Artemis (Ali Farahnakian) fancies himself a great actor undiscovered, though no one else shares that sentiment — and a broken marriage further attests to his terminally bad social skills. When he’s snubbed by casting for a local legit production of “Misanthrope,” he decides to mount the play anyway as a school project, never minding the students’ understandable bewilderment or the skepticism of a principal (Jennifer Joan Taylor) who secretly views this binge-drinking, unreliable employee as marriage material. Variable perfs and some potentially funny situations are all ill-served by pic’s staging, editorial rhythms and penchant for wobbly hand-held lensing. Soundtrack is curiously dominated by the mighty strains of a Wurlitzer organ.

The Misanthrope

Production: A Bulldozer Prods. presentation. Produced by Rachel Davis. Directed, written by Allen Colombo.

Crew: Camera (color, 16mm), Scott Thiele; editors, Eric Kutner, Colombo; production designer, Sarah Broshar; sound designer, Jacob Ross. Reviewed at Cinequest Film Festival, San Jose, March 2, 2002. Running time: 85 MIN.

With: With: Ali Farahnakian, Albena Dodeva, Jennifer Joan Taylor, Joan-Yvette Gonzalez, L. A. Melendez, Eastman Presser, Ned Baker.

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