Written by Michael Godere and Ivan Martin / Directed by Adam Rapp / Starring Ivan Martin, Michael Godere, Sam Rockwell and Marisa Tomei
Actor, to Raphael: I thought you were going to be huge. What happened?
Taking a page from the Matt Damon and Ben Affleck “let’s write a movie showcasing our talents, win an Oscar and become famous” handbook, writers Martin Godere and Ivan Martin respectively play Dominic and Raphael, two New York City part-time actors and full-time bartenders, in LOITERING WITH INTENT. Despite some limited successes between them (Dominic had a meaty role in a Law and Order episode where he had his ear lopped off), they are still waiting for that big break. A chance meeting in the park with a bar patron who is working for someone who has $300K to burn on producing a movie for tax benefits, Dominic and Raphael quickly mention they are working on putting the final touches on a screenplay and by throwing enough buzzwords (“elevated genre film”, Raymond Chandler, Sweet Smell of Success), they get the gig, providing that a finished screenplay is delivered in ten days. Convinced they can pull it off together, they drive off to Dominic sister’s country home upstate where they can write with no distractions.
Unfortunately and naturally, distractions abound! Beginning with an unproductive, alcohol-fuelled first night of brainstorming plot and character ideas, to the arrival of Ava (Isabelle McNally), a gardener there to tend to the grounds, followed by a drunken visit from Dominic’s sister, Gigi (Marisa Tomei, who must have a painting of herself locked in a closet that’s aging as she looks as young and refreshing as she did in My Cousin Vinny) and lastly by Gigi’s boyfriend, Wayne (Sam Rockwell) and his brother Devon (Brian Geraghty), writing the script is now overshadowed by dealing with personal dramas and relationships issues.
I tend to gravitate towards character-driven, indie features that focus on the business of show, making LOITERING WITH INTENT right up my alley. The banter between these intelligent and somewhat flawed characters is witty and theatrical; when was the last time one laughed out loud to a bit where the punchline is “Ingmar Bergman”? The attention to detail, especially in the production design and the musical score in this tightly conceived 80 minute movie appeals to my aesthetic sensibilities and also remains true to the characters – from screenplay ideas scrawled on post-it notes and peppered throughout their car and country house to the way everyone expresses their uniqueness by the clothes they wear. Whereas the director, Adam Rapp (also a playwright shortlisted for a Pulitzer Prize, novelist, musician, film director and older brother of Rent’s Anthony Rapp), might not have the most original cinematic vision, his theatre background is his greatest strength. Other than the usually reliable Rockwell, who appears to sleepwalk through this role, Rapp elicits textured performances from the cast of mostly unknowns. Watching Godere react to the news that Brian Geraghty’s flighty surfer dude persona just scored a megadeal as the host and star of Jerry Bruckheimer’s latest TV reality show showcasing celebrities learning to surf a la Dancing With the Stars is understated, comedy gold. Tomei yet again shows how easily and effortlessly she can switch from comedy to drama and does both compellingly in this movie.
This is a movie about people wanting to, as one character says, “make a mark”. I genuinely hope that LOITERING WITH INTENT is the calling card that will take Godere and Martin to greater heights. This movie made a mark with me and I want to see more of what they can do in the future.