J.B. Spins

Jazz, film, and improvised culture.

Monday, June 03, 2013

BFF ’13: A Wife Alone

Maybe internet dating isn’t such a bad idea after all.  An investment banker met his new wife the old fashioned way—in a bar.  However, she might not be exactly who he thinks she is in Justin Reichman’s A Wife Alone (trailer here), which screens during the 2013 Brooklyn Film Festival.

Not so long ago, Jane was a prostitute, who had a disastrous gig with Steve.  She therefore ought to be shocked when her dopey new husband Park brings her to spend the day with his godfather-business partner, the very same Steve, and the older man’s highly strung wife, Holly.  Jane seems to take it all in stride though.  With Steve openly leering at Jane and Park quietly nursing his investment-related resentments with his mentor, it should be quite a fun outing for all involved.

Clocking-in just under seventy minutes, Wife is a little oddball of a feature.  Reichman creates an effective hothouse atmosphere, strongly abetted by Tal Lazar’s moody cinematography.  The film’s resulting vibe evokes some of the indie-forerunning studio films of the 1970’s, which is definitely cool.  Unfortunately, the narrative is not nearly as clever as everyone evidently thought it was.  Audience members will constantly find themselves way ahead of the film, waiting for it to catch up to them.  Needless to say, it works better the other way around.

The cast is also a rather strange assembly of character actors.  Sean Patrick Reilly is terrific as the sleazy Steve (bringing to mind Steve Dallas from the old Bloom County comic strip).  Genevieve Hudson-Price’s Jane is much more problematic, lacking a comparable femme fatale presence.  In contrast, Alesandra Assante (daughter of Armand) lights up the screen as Jane’s close lesbian “associate” Barbs.  Frankly, Wife might have worked better if they had exchanged roles.

If nothing else, A Wife Alone surpasses Derek Cianfrance’s wildly overrated The Place Beyond the Pines as the definitive Upstate New York movie.  Some nice film-crafting went into it, but the uneven script remains an issue.  For the intrigued and those interested in seeing their New York State tax credits at work, A Wife Alone screens this Thursday (6/6) at Windmill Studios and Sunday (6/8) and indieScreen as part of the “Magnetic” edition of the Brooklyn Film Festival.

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