xx/xy (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner16/10/2003

Two out of Five stars
Running time: 91 mins

Self-indulgent, occasionally pretentious, frequently tedious drama enlightened only by its attractive cast and a couple of good scenes.

On the strength of his parts in films such as You Can Count On Me and two upcoming features (In The Cut and My Life Without Me – both at this year’s London Film Festival), Mark Ruffalo is quickly gaining a reputation as “the new Marlon Brando”.

An immensely watchable actor, he’s one of the only reasons to see xx/xy (which was actually shot before You Can Count On Me was released) and even he can’t save it from being a fairly tedious, self-indulgent piece of work.

Immediate Nekkid Naughtiness

It starts well enough, particularly as there’s a Naked Threesome involving Ruffalo and the two gorgeous leads within the opening ten minutes, but, somewhat inevitably, it all goes downhill from there.

The first half of the film is set in the early 90s. Ruffalo plays Coles, who spots a gorgeous girl (Sam, played by Maya Strange) on the subway platform and – possibly - follows her to a college party, though it turns out he's a student there too. After a bit of flirting he suggests going to her room and she says the magic words 'Well, yes, but let's bring my friend...' (Said friend is Thea, played by Kathleen Robertson).

However, it all goes horribly wrong and Sam gets up and goes to cry in the bathroom halfway through. (At that point it looks as if it might be a film about Sam struggling between her feelings for her hot roommate and Coles, but sadly, it isn't).

Anyway, Sam and Coles get together but they can't really trust each other, particularly when Sam finds Coles shagging Thea (who has problems of her own), so they go their separate ways.

Ten Years Later

Cut to ten years later and Coles is now a failed film-maker, reduced to doing animated ads for a burrito company. (There's an excruciating scene where someone recognises him and demands – and gets - their money back for having sat through his shit film). He's now in a settled relationship with Claire (Petra Wright) but a random encounter with Sam rekindles old emotions and they end up shagging again, all of which comes to a head when Sam, Coles, Claire and Thea and her husband go away to the Hamptons for a weekend…

The main problem is that Thea is the only interesting character and she's not really in it enough. Maya Strange is gorgeous but not much of an actress and Ruffalo struggles to make his character sympathetic and never quite manages it – it’s surprisingly hard to sympathise with a character who can’t decide between two beautiful women.

The script is utterly dreadful - the actors do well just to deliver some of the lines without cringing. It’s also extraordinarily, almost comically pretentious at times – for example, Claire almost catches Coles shagging Sam because she’s excitedly rushing home to give him a box-set of Claire Denis videos…

In short, there are a couple of good scenes and Ruffalo is always watchable, but the film in general is a big disappointment. If it’s an indie relationship drama set in New York you’re after, stick with Raising Victor Vargas.

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Content updated: 19/07/2018 04:48

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