Tuesday, March 22, 2016

JANE WANTS A BOYFRIEND: Sullivan/Kerr's feel-good look at autism and relationships

TrustMovies admits that he may have a blind spot so far as films about the handi-capped are concerned. He's seen two of these in as many months and found both severely wanting. First came the bi-polar romance Touched With Fire, and now we get the Asperger love story, JANE WANTS A BOYFRIEND, in which a young woman who seems (depending on the moment) somewhere between moderate and severe on the Asperger's spectrum falls in love with a young man who, for an awfully long time, hasn't a clue to her condition.

As written by Jarret Kerr and directed by William Sullivan (the latter is shown at right), the movie plays fast and loose with plotting and believability from the get-go, as the two sisters -- the "normal" one, Bianca, played by Eliza Dushku, (below, left) and the "damaged" Jane, by Louisa Krause, below right) -- are shown at work and play, with the former having the lead in what appears to be an important and professional production of Shakes-peare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and the latter working on the costumes for the show. Really? Considering what happens here, they would both have been fired long before.

Even if we accept this odd work situation, we're soon confronted by an even less believable occurrence. Why would not Bianca tell her very good friend, Jack (Gabriel Ebert, below), about her sister's situation rather than screaming at him to get lost? In a later scene, Bianca's boyfriend, Rob (Amir Arison, two photos below), takes what seems like forever to finally spill the beans about Jane to Jack. More than half the film is over before the boyfriend of the title learns the truth about his would-be girl.

Jane's behavior/breakdowns are quite over-the-top, and how Mr. Sullivan has chosen to film some of them just adds to the eye-rolling. Regarding this production of Shakespeare -- from what we hear of the dialog, at least -- while I have greatly admired this actress' work elsewhere, I would advise Ms Dushku to leave the Bard alone. This also appears to be one of the least professional productions of Midsummer to ever grace the boards.

The "first date" with Mr. Right that we're shown would be terrific in a movie about people with more "everyday" problems, but here it simply curdles, as does so much else in this film that insists on a feel-good ending in which, yes, just about everything seems to have been solved. Or am I reading too much into all this? The road ahead will be be paved with prob-lems, for certain, but the moviemakers insist on an upbeat finale for all.

The best of the handicapped love stories I've so far seen remain Adam, in which Hugh Dancy and Rose Byrne tread the romantic landscape much more believably, and the Spanish movie Me, Too (Yo, Tambien) in which a Down Syndrome young man attempts a relationship with a co-worker.

As the Asperger-plagued Jane, Ms Krause (shown above and further above), who was so terrific in the underseen shot-on-cell-phone King Kelly), is probably as good as she could be in this role, given what the moviemakers put her through. The supporting cast is fine, as well. But what this movie achieves in terms of anything even vaguely real proves piddling indeed.

Jane Wants a Boyfriend -- from FilmBuff and running 101 minutes -- opens in theaters (in NYC you can view it at the Cinema Village) this Friday, March 25, and simultaneously on VOD. On Thursday, March 24, however, it will play a single 9:55pm performance at Laemmle's Music Hall 3 in Beverly Hills.

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