Whoever instructs aspiring screenwriters to “write what you know” really ought to accept some blame for the overabundance of movies about struggling artists in New York. “Loitering With Intent” is simply the latest in a string of pointless low-budget exercises in angsty Big Apple self-reflection. At least in this case, writers-producers-stars Michael Godere and Ivan Martin have a couple of talented pals — namely Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell — to help them out. Nevertheless, B.O. prospects for this 2014 Tribeca Film Festival premiere look extremely limited in a modest Jan. 16 release. Already available on VOD for a month prior, they pic won’t loiter in theaters for long.
Friends and frustrated actors Raphael (Martin) and Dominic (Godere) hear from a well-connected pal (Natasha Lyonne in a fleeting cameo) that a producer has some money to burn. That’s as good a reason as any for the pair to head out for a secluded cabin belonging to Dominic’s sister, Gigi (Tomei), and bang out a screenplay to showcase their acting skills. (It’s a noir and they’ll play detectives, but that’s all they’ve worked out.)
The actual writing keeps getting set aside thanks to a series of distractions including comely neighbor Ava (Isabelle McNally), the return of neurotic Gigi, and the arrival of her military grunt-turned-handyman b.f., Wayne (Rockwell), and his surfer-bro brother, Devon (Brian Geraghty).
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What follows isn’t so much a movie as a collection of lackluster dialogue scenes, lukewarm romantic tension and a handful of smarmy meta-indie filmmaking references interspersed with montages of the characters dancing around to establish how much fun they’re having. “Loitering With Intent” is essentially a 75-minute hangout movie, which would work better if the characters were worth hanging out with.
Godere and Martin never really command the screen as leading men, and they have only themselves to blame: Not only are they playing whiny, shallow and uninteresting characters, but it’s their own script that stubbornly limits the characters to those traits. Tomei and Rockwell easily outclass the material, appearing to exist in their own, superior movie — especially in the few scenes they share exclusively together.
As directed by playwright and infrequent filmmaker Adam Rapp (“Winter Passing”), the entire production feels like an acting exercise in search of a story. It’s the sort of disposable confection the thesps no doubt enjoyed the process of making far more than audiences will enjoy the experience of watching.
Craft contributions are unexceptional.