The selling point for Sam Neave’s “Almost in Love” is that the helmer shot the pic in just two takes, of about 40 minutes each. While unquestionably difficult, the device needs to be more than a gimmick to make an impact, and unfortunately there’s no apparent reason for this ultra-indie chatfest to be so technically rigorous yet dramatically negligible. Watching and listening to uninteresting thirtysomethings say uninteresting things at two parties simply doesn’t grab the attention, though the second half has a bit more vitality. A brief run is likely at specialty houses.

Sunset on a Staten Island terrace features fabulous views as Sasha (Alex Karpovsky) hosts a barbecue for friends. He’s hoping to get back together with ex g.f. Mia (Marjan Neshat), but Lee (Adam Rapp) invites their old buddy Kyle (Gary Wilmes), despite knowing of the brief fling he and Mia had after Sasha’s breakup. Part two is shot at sunrise in a glam Hamptons home following Sasha’s wedding to Faye (Gretchen Hall), where party guests (one of whom is played by Alan Cumming) conclude a late night with chatter low on revelation and high on drunken inconsequentialities.

It’s not that auds want characters to sit around and discuss Heidegger for 80 minutes, but the banal conversations here play like uninspired improv and the participants are seldom interesting. Neave (“Cry Funny Happy”) gave the thesps a script while encouraging ad libbing, yet too often the results play like an acting exercise in which the thesps aren’t able to be as extemporaneous as required.

More notable are the tech elements, especially Neave’s use of sound; Daniel McKeown’s camera wanders to unmiked conversations as the sound stays on dialogue even after the speakers have moved out of frame. Conceptually, it nicely conveys the sense that conversations keep going long after they’ve exited the picture space, though the application for this stylization remains limited, at least as demonstrated here. A hand or arm occasionally obscures the camera’s subject, but then at times it seems as if the camera itself isn’t quite sure who the subject is, roving aimlessly as if looking for something interesting to settle on.

Almost in Love

  • Production: A Falling Rock Zone Prods. production. Produced by D.L. Glickman, Michaela McKee. Executive producer, Glickman. Directed, written by Sam Neave.
  • Crew: Camera (color, HD), Daniel McKeown; production designer, Elizabeth Jones; sound, Bryan Dembinski, Nick Huston. Reviewed at Abu Dhabi Film Festival (New Horizons), Oct. 15, 2011. Running time: 80 MIN.
  • With: With: Alex Karpovsky, Marjan Neshat, Gary Wilmes, Alan Cumming, Adam Rapp, Katherine Waterston, Elizabeth Kapplow, Christy Pusz, Michael Warner, Leslie Lewis Sword, Montgomery Maguire, Mizuo Peck, Darrill Rosen, Gretchen Hall.
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