Two guileless lost souls from New York City connect via a phone-sex line in wispy yakfest “Somewhere Tonight.” Scribe-helmer Michael Di Jiacomo’s loose adaptation of Theo van Gogh’s “06” is the last of three American-directed films based on the slain Dutch director’s work, after Steve Buscemi’s “Interview” and Stanley Tucci’s “Blind Date.” “Tonight’s” quirky dual character study coasts along nicely on the chemistry of thesp John Turturro and his wife, actress Katherine Borowitz, who credibly connect even though their characters share nary a frame. Small-change theatrical B.O. will precede slightly more lucrative VOD and ancillary sales.
Brooklyn bike messenger Wooly reps the latest addition to Turturro’s gallery of lovable goofball simpletons. The fortysomething-year-old virgin lives with his droopy old basset hound — one wonders which first started copying the look of the other — in his parents’ old apartment. When Wooly calls a swingers’ service to listen to the recordings of women looking for men, he decides to leave a message for the homely sounding Patricia (Borowitz), who “likes fish sticks.”
Before long, they’re on the phone all day, though the only one who has the other’s number is Patricia. Their talk is mostly sweet rather than spicy; an early scene in which Patty insists Wooly masturbate while she remains on the phone is intentionally uncomfortable rather than sexy.
As in “06,” an undercurrent of power-play is always present, though the pic’s second half deviates significantly from van Gogh’s template (which was in turn based on a play by Johan Doesburg) to wend its way toward an unexpected but nonetheless gently moving ending.
Like “Interview” and “Blind Date,” pic is a small-scale two-hander that lets the screenplay and actors do most of the heavy lifting, just as van Gogh was wont to do. The dialogue penned by Di Jiacomo (a scribe and occasional helmer who previously directed Turturro in “Animals With the Tollkeeper”) is often entertaining and sometimes revealing, but only rarely becomes poetic or especially memorable, as when Wooly describes his and Patricia’s imaginary first kiss.
Both Borowitz and Turturro inhabit their characters fully and have great chemistry, even though their perfs physically occur (and were shot) in different spaces. Small cast of supporting players is on the money.
Occasional use of splitscreen, the characters’ penchant for using phones (and land-lines at that) in their search for companionship, and the look of their respective apartments all give the proceedings a slight retro feel. Though “Somewhere Tonight” is set in the present, modernity and the Internet seem to have simply passed these characters by.
Lensing by van Gogh’s regular d.p., Thomas Kist (who also shot the remakes of “Interview” and “Blind Date”), is plain and functional, much like Barry Alexander Brown’s editing. Score by Giulio Carmassi is only slightly more sophisticated.