Saturday, June 24, 2017

Keith Boynton's SEVEN LOVERS tackles "woman" -- from several angles (and genres)

An interesting idea -- tracking a woman through what looks like her relationships with different men at different times, with each shown as its own distinct movie "genre" -- is given a fairly interesting execution in the 2014 film, SEVEN LOVERS, written and directed by Keith Boynton and finally receiving a belated release digitally. The genres include everything from a seemingly standard light-rom-com to a European art film that's dialog-free; a full-out, old-fashioned black-and-white musical; a comedy of missed opportunity, and even an animated film.

This is a clever idea of Mr. Boynton (the filmmaker is shown at left), and for awhile, at least, he carries it off with some elegance and charm. His leading actors are Erin Darke (as the woman, Laura) and Fran Kranz as the man who seems, among her various lovers, to possess the most possibilities. Ms Darke, shown above and below, is better in some scenes/genres than others. She pushes a bit hard at times and lacks the more genuine, off-the-cuff bubble that actresses like Meg Ryan or Diane Keaton had at the height of their careers. Still, Ms Darke, who comes off at her most attractive in the musical mode, at least fills the bill and is sometimes even better than that.

Leading man Kranz (below), on the other hand, is (as almost always) quietly, delightfully spectacular. Possessing a handsome face and a great body, along with a nice range of acting ability, Kranz combines the goofy and the sexy to near-perfect effect. Why this young actor has not hit the big-time is a mystery to me. The usual answer, I guess: Luck coupled to the choice of roles at hand, along with the lack of a blockbuster to put him on the movie map. In any case, he could hardly be better -- more attractive and full of life, zing and chemistry -- than he is here.

A number of other good actors plays supporting roles, as the satellites that revolve around Laura -- among them, Max von Essen as a musical Mr. Right (below) and Peter Mark Kendall as a friendly Brit in the missed-connection scenario.

Gia Crovatin (below, left) plays Laura's best friend, a woman who's a little bit too over-the-top for comfort. It is in her character, and especially in that of Laura's herself, where the movie falls the most flat. It's odd that, in a film in which a female is given the major role -- and one taking in several genres, too -- that it is this character that feels the most empty. Laura is needy, ditsy and confused. And that's about all. Seven Lovers proves much heavier on situation and genre than on depth of character.

For all we see of our Laura, she never really expands, and everything we learn about her seems awfully surface, if not second-hand. When, at one point her character announces, "Well, that's me," I felt like asking, "But just what is that." This is not Darke's fault -- she does what she can with these role(s) -- but more the filmmaker's.

Boynton's juggling genres is handled effectively, with the animated sequences (as above) -- involving a princess, a knight in shining armor, and a dragon -- simple but cleverly done. Eventually, though, the overall pacing seems a good deal slower than necessary (the movie could lose ten minutes with no problem at all), given the quantity and quality of its content. Still, this idea of combining/splitting a movie into genres is unusual enough to merit a look. And eventually a more productive execution of that idea.

From Premiere Digital Services and running 108 minutes, Seven Lovers is currently available to rent or buy on the following digital platforms: Amazon, iTunes, Microsoft, VUDU Vubiquity, Dish and Google. 

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