Stay Until Tomorrow

Filmic equivalent of an uneven collection of short stories and poems is a grab-bag of impressions woven around the loosely confederated adventures of a flaky young perpetual traveler who alights for a spell in Providence, R.I. Second feature from scripter-helmer Laura Colella has pockets of low-key bravado.

With:
With: Eleanor Hutchins, Barney Cheng, Alison Folland, Yarolslav Mogutin, Eddie Bernard, Reena Shah, Pierre Mignard, Patrick Clarke.

The filmic equivalent of an uneven collection of short stories and poems, “Stay Until Tomorrow” is a grab-bag of impressions woven around the loosely confederated adventures of a flaky young perpetual traveler who alights for a spell in Providence, R.I. Second feature from scripter-helmer Laura Colella (“Tax Day,” 1998) has pockets of low-key bravado, but wears its stitched-together openendedness like a badge of honor. A convincing central perf and a handsome multicultural cast can’t completely overcome the diffuse, work-in-progress feel.

Under-30 viewers may respond favorably to the casual drop-in, drop-out structure and peppy but episodic observations, but those for whom “whatever … ” is always followed by a complete sentence will conclude that too many promising ideas reach premature dead ends.

There hasn’t been much structure in the life of Nina (Eleanor Hutchins) since her two-year stint in the cast of a popular soap opera as a teen. Her official fan club is down to one member, and Nina has been globetrotting with casual enthusiasm on a modest budget for years. She’s seemingly allergic to sustained attachments, and her collected thoughts emerge as voiceovers from a mental scrapbook.

Amusing riffs include musings on the spoiled only-children of China, the treasures to be found on library shelves and the wisdom of the elderly.

After a 7-year hiatus, Nina, in need of temporary digs on U.S. soil, imposes on mild-mannered librarian Jim (Barney Cheng, who played Woody Allen’s interpreter in “Hollywood Ending”), slightly cramping his relationship with girlfriend Carla (Alison Folland). In self-referential digressions, Cheng is called upon to play a Chinese-American actor who reflects on playing the character Jim in a film — this one — being directed by a fictional woman director.

Nina’s physical encounters with Russian hunk Andrei (Yarolslav Mogutin) and precocious Latino high schooler Tonio (Eddie Bernard), as well as a tacked-on tale of the sad decline of Nina’s dear friend Sheila (Reena Shah) in the company of an impetuous French lad (Pierre Mignard), are played more or less straight.

Hutchins carries the day as the ditzy Nina, but overall result — which benefited from a development stint at the Sundance directing workshop — is too scattershot in its present form.

Stay Until Tomorrow

Production: A Ziafilm7 presentation. Produced by Amy Geller, Laura Colella. Co-producers, Renee Evangelista, Michael A. Jackman. Executive producers, Carlo Ruggeri, Donald R. Sweitzer. Directed, written, edited by Laura Colella.

Crew: Camera (color), Richard Rutkowski; music, Alec K. Redfearn; art director, Adam Roffman; sound designer (Dolby), Daniel Pellerin; casting, Adrienne Stern. Reviewed at Avignon Film Festival (competing), June 25, 2004. Running time: 88 MIN.

With: With: Eleanor Hutchins, Barney Cheng, Alison Folland, Yarolslav Mogutin, Eddie Bernard, Reena Shah, Pierre Mignard, Patrick Clarke.

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