Easier With Practice DVD review
|REVIEWS - DVD REVIEWS|
A voice reaches out from the either to change a lonely writer's life...
First time writer and director Kyle Patrick Alvarez looks set for a promising career after his debut feature Easier With Practice. Winner of Best New International Feature at the Edinburgh Film Festival, Easier With Practice is inspired by Davy Rothbart's GQ magazine autobiographical essay.
On the road with his brother Sean (Kel O'Neill) for several months, stopping at book stores to publicise his yet-unpublished book of short stories, Davy grows weary of the loneliness of life on the move. One night he receives a mysterious and sexually-charged phone call from the seductive Nicole. At first believing it to be a wrong number, Davy's reluctant to play along, but as Nicole turns up the heat, Davy finds himself talking just as "dirty". Interrupted by the reappearance of Sean, they are forced to stop, but when Nicole rings back later, there's no turning back for Davy.
As the weeks pass, their phone-sex sessions become more regular, and while at home Davy finds himself unable to sleep with another girl, judging it to be "cheating". When Nicole ceases ringing for six weeks, Davy's devastated and isolates himself from his brother until he gets a phone call and Nicole finally agrees to meet...
Although predominantly a road movie, Easier With Practice shares some of the features of a mystery as we try to piece together Nicole's identity through the conversations that are interspersed with readings from Davy's book, "Things People Do To Each Other". Just as Davy savours the small snippets of information he manages to extract from her, so do we: her funeral home secretarial job, memories of her mother, her New Mexico location and the revelation that she has a boyfriend called Aaron. Refusing to give Davy her number only adds to the suspense, and his longing, as we wait for the next ill-timed phone call.
With plenty of phone flirting and car park jerking-off sessions, Davy could easily be mistaken as nothing more than a perverted back-seat wanker, but Brian Geraghty (The Hurt Locker) gives such a fantastic performance that he not only makes the character three-dimensional but positively sympathetic. Sensitive, caring and considerate, Davy is not blessed when it comes to relationships or particularly adept at chat-up lines. Faced with one admirer in the flesh and one who's just a voice, the fantasy is easier for Davy.
Sincere and heartfelt, Easier With Practice forces the viewer to feel Davy's discomfort and pain. A brotherly row after Sean cheats on his girlfriend is entirely convincing and the "two truths and one lie" game played at Samantha's (Marguerite Moreau) dinner party is excruciating to watch. We're privy to Davy's endearingly shy attempts to rekindle a past romance and feel Davy's devastation when after travelling miles especially to see Nicole, she cancels on him. After the bombshell drops towards the end of the film, a dinner-meeting wracked with forced honesty, emotion and nerves is possibly one of the most awkward meal scenes you'll ever watch.
From the stylish opening music and close-ups of book covers, Easier With Practice is a compelling visual feast from start to finish. Just as you're enjoying a scene, the music cuts and we're on to the next, making a mental note to tracklist the film's memorable indie rock soundtrack. In a similar vein to Lars and The Real Girl, Easier With Practice is a thoroughly engaging tender, touching and surprising exploration of the identities we construct, lies we tell and the anticipation of the meet.
· Feature Commentary with Cookie Carosella, Davy Rothbart, Kyle Patrick Alvarez and Brian Geraghty
· Fourteen Video Diaries
· Behind The Scenes With Easier With Practice
· Stills Gallery
Features accompanying Easier With Practice are insightful, providing a window into every aspect of production, right down to the tiny obscure jobs. The stills gallery is frustratingly slow-moving but the "Forty Second Production" diaries are upbeat, taking you on a journey from development to completion. The five minute "Behind The Scenes" feature helpfully provides a band listing for the film's beautiful indie-soundtrack and introduces us to the real inspiration behind the film. Using four key players in the commentary helps to keep interest levels high and means some of the smaller details that are likely to bug you during the film are readily tackled.
Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Writer: Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Davy Rothbart
Running Time: 100 mins
Starring: Brian Geraghty, Katie Aselton
Easier With Practice is released today.
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