Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sean Mewshaw's rom-com TUMBLEDOWN: loss and recovery, with some fun in between

There are those of us film lovers who would never miss a movie starring Rebecca Hall, one of the finer and more versatile actresses working today. A keen intelligence coupled to deep feeling radiates from this woman. If her co-star, Jason Sudeikis, can't quite match the depths of Ms Hall, he still manages to partner her quite nicely in the new rom-com, TUMBLEDOWN, directed by Sean Mewshaw (shown below: this is his first full-length film), from an initially intelligent and occasionally off-the-wall funny screenplay by Desiree Van Til.

In the film, Hall (below, left) plays Hannah, the widow of a famous folk rock musician who died far too early in his successful career, leaving his many fans and Hannah bereft. Enter Sudeikis (below, right) as Andrew, a college professor with a Random House contract to write a book about the late musician -- even though the widow is supremely protective of her late husband's life and work and, in fact, plans to write about him herself. Do we expect conflict, humor and budding romance? You got it. And for about two-third of the film, this all works quite entertainingly -- buoyed by Hall's commanding presence and Sudeikis' looney, sexy charm.

In the supporting cast are a number of stalwarts like Blythe Danner (as Hannah's mom), Richard Masur (as her dad) and Griffin Dunne as the local bookstore owner and friend, each of whom does wonders with relatively small screen time.

The biggest problem in the film arises with the current "significant others" of our protagonists: Diana Agron (above) as Andrew's girl, and Joe Manganiello (below, right) as Hannah's main squeeze. These two are treated so cavalierly by the filmmakers as to be almost beside the point. Yet they exist; we meet and get to know them a bit, and then they're summarily disposed of with less than a "by your leave."

Granted Hannah has made it clear that she uses the Manganiello character merely for sex (so does that mean he's not worth a goodbye?), but Agron, caring and supportive of her man, is treated even worse.

All this might perhaps not be a deal-breaker, except for the fact that the movie runs downhill during it's final third. There's too much repetitive angst from Hannah about not being able to "let go," and the movie ends with that typical and cliched  race-to-declare-oneself-before-the-love-object-gets-away.

Too bad, because the build-up is winning, and the performances are fine. But somebody didn't think things out well enough before the filming began, and so the movie leaves us exceedingly unconvinced. Tumbledown, from Starz Digital and running a too-long 103 minutes, opens theatrically in New York (at the Village East Cinema) and Los Angeles (at the Sundance Sunset Cinemas) tomorrow, February 5, then goes nationwide and hits VOD the following Friday, February 12.

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