×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Multiple Sarcasms

Timothy Hutton's fine, loose-limbed perf as a man adrift lifts "Multiple Sarcasms" out of cliche-ridden territory.

With:
Gabriel - Timothy Hutton Cari - Mira Sorvino Annie - Dana Delaney Elizabeth - India Ennenga Rocky - Mario van Peebles Pamela - Stockard Channing Lauren - Laila Robins

Timothy Hutton’s fine, loose-limbed perf as a man adrift lifts “Multiple Sarcasms,” frosh scribe-helmer Brooks Branch’s male menopause apologia, out of cliche-ridden territory — at least temporarily. Hutton portrays a successful architect in 1979 who, though happily married with a great little girl and an understanding gal-pal, only finds fulfillment holed up in the bathroom, venting his angst on a typewriter as he transforms life into art. But simplistic romantic-comedy elements swoop in with a vengeance once the conflict between familial obligation and selfish creativity is triumphantly resolved. After its May 7 limited release, “Sarcasms” should quickly find a cable berth.

Experiencing a midlife crisis and unable to pinpoint the reason for his growing dissatisfaction, Gabriel (Hutton) spends his days at the movies (watching the Jill Clayburgh-Burt Reynolds artifact “Starting Over” over and over), neglecting his job and his family. Once the writing bug bites, he converts his bathroom into a literary workspace and his lifetime experiences into a play, with odd fantasies of cheapo musical extravaganzas like some poor man’s “All That Jazz.”

Though Gabriel’s precociously adorable 12-year-old daughter, Lizzie (India Ennenga, never cloying as the wise linchpin of the clan), showers him with understanding, wife Annie (Dana Delaney) proves less amenable, and domestic tensions rise. Even his sole soulmate, longtime friend Cari (Mira Sorvino) — who, as a record exec, provides the excuse for some of the better choices in the film’s otherwise uneven soundtrack (including a live appearance by Joan Jett) — is alienated by the depths of Gabriel’s navel-gazing insensitivity.

Branch has populated his pic with reliable if off-A-list veterans. Sorvino manages to keep the quirkiness of quasi-alcoholic free spirit Cari from feeling forced; Mario van Peebles executes a nicely understated turn as the hero’s gay, wisecracking sidekick; and Stockard Channing applies her typically welcome affectionate brusqueness to the role of Gabriel’s literary agent.

But Branch’s script constantly pulls its punches, making Hutton’s character the innocent victim of his own artistic compulsion; if this supposed antihero were any cuter, he’d be a plush toy. Incidental elements are repeatedly weighted in Gabriel’s favor, such as the choice of the chilly Delaney as Gabriel’s nice but not-too-sympathetic spouse. Gabriel’s yearlong unemployment apparently has no effect on his ability to maintain his large Gotham apartment, while his lack of literary experience poses no barrier to a theatrical career.

Strangely, the film succeeds stylistically where most fall flat in its presentation of the play-within-the-film, which proves far more formally inventive and witty than the rather bland movie that surrounds it.

Tech credits are generally unexceptional, but period reconstruction registers as convincingly casual and unobtrusive.

Multiple Sarcasms

Production: A Multiple Avenue Releasing release of a Queen Bee production. Produced by Chris Bongirne. Executive producers, Patrice Auld, Keith Grinstein, Martha Moseley. Directed by Brooks Branch. Screenplay, Branch, Linda Morris.

Crew: Camera (color), Jacek Laskus; editor, Plummy Tucker; music, George J. Fontentette; production designer, Sharon Lomofsky; art director, Peter Baran; costume designer, Kitty Boots; sound (Dolby Digital), Damian Canelos; supervising sound editor, Peter Levin; casting, Kerry Barden, Billy Hopkins, Suzanne Crowley. Reviewed at Magno Review 2, New York, March 13, 2010. (In Dallas Film Festival -- opener.) MPAA Rating: R. Running time: 97 MIN.

With: Gabriel - Timothy Hutton Cari - Mira Sorvino Annie - Dana Delaney Elizabeth - India Ennenga Rocky - Mario van Peebles Pamela - Stockard Channing Lauren - Laila Robins

More Film

  • The Last to See Them review

    Film Review: 'The Last to See Them'

    Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood” stretches long as a late-evening shadow over Italian director Sara Summa’s feature debut “The Last to See Them.” The Italian title, “Gli Ultimi Viderli Vivere” which translates literally to “The Last to See Them Alive,” is also the heading of the opening chapter of Capote’s book. The setting is, similarly, [...]

  • Kalank

    Film Review: ‘Kalank’

    Events leading to the 1947 Partition of India serve as the forebodingly serious backdrop for the exhaustingly overextended razzmatazz of “Kalank,” writer-director Abhishek Varman’s lavish but ponderous Bollywood extravaganza, which opened in the U.S. on more than 300 screens the same day as its Indian release. Despite the preponderance of sets and costumes spectacular enough [...]

  • WGA Agency Packaging Fight Placeholder Writer

    WGA: 92 Percent of Writers Who Signed Statement of Support Have Fired Agents

    The Writers Guild of America estimated that over 92 percent of their members who support a new code of conduct for talent agencies have fired those representatives. Letters announcing formal termination will be delivered on Monday, the guild said in a late-hitting memo on Thursday, as most agencies will be closed tomorrow in observance of [...]

  • Jimmie Fails Signs With CAA

    'Last Black Man in San Francisco' Star Jimmie Fails Signs With CAA

    Jimmie Fails, co-writer and star of “The Last Black Man in San Francisco,” has signed with CAA for representation. The drama, inspired by Fails’ own life, had its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. In his review for Variety, chief film critic Peter Debruge described the film as “a gorgeous and touchingly idealistic [...]

  • Stuck

    Film Review: 'Stuck'

    A stalled New York City subway carriage serves as a toe-tapping musical Petri dish for six socioeconomically diverse souls in the unique stage-to-screen musical adaptation “Stuck.” Sharing a stylistic template with its 2016 left-coast cousin “La La Land” (which it predated Off-Broadway by a good four years), the film’s 2017 copyright suggests a missed opportunity [...]

  • Gay Chorus Deep South

    Why Airbnb Produced Documentary 'Gay Chorus Deep South,' Its First-Ever Film (EXCLUSIVE)

    The latest player to hit the film-festival circuit may be a bit unexpected: Airbnb, the travel-accommodations booking marketplace, developed, financed and produced documentary film “Gay Chorus Deep South,” set to premiere at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival on April 29. It’s the company’s very first feature film. Directed by David Charles Rodrigues, “Gay Chorus Deep [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content