Review: ‘Loitering With Intent’

Directed by Adam Rapp
Starring Sam Rockwell, Marisa Tomei, Ivan Martin, Michael Godere & Natasha Lyonne 

Now Playing in Select Theaters

There are too many movies right now in which Sam Rockwell is the only thing worth watching in them. It’s disappointing. These aren’t big studios pushing him to the margins for younger, marketable stars. These are small independent films with grassroots budgets. It’s as though they expect him to carry a film but haven’t given him anything to hold. How can this be? The question is reinforced in Loitering With Intent, a small, scattered movie with little to say and a lot more that could have been.

loitering-with-intent-posterRockwell plays a military veteran with PTSD but doesn’t show up until halfway through the film. That leaves Ivan Martin and Michael Godere, as Raphael and Dominic, respectively, to anchor the film as a pair of struggling writers and actors staying afloat as bartenders in New York City. Dominic can’t get work because he’s in an “age void” and Raphael has little ambition. The duo is also the writing pair behind this film, so you sense their characters’ anxieties and regrets have some personal history. Opportunity strikes when a friend and producer (Natasha Lyonne) says her company can finance a small film. The two push her an idea of a noir screenplay and get two weeks to send her back a draft. As you might assume, a country house getaway from the frenetic city is the mirage to finally nabbing their success.

The urgency in this quest to whip up a screenplay rarely gains momentum. Part of that is the pacing and part of that is whom they encounter in their hope for solitude. The house belongs to Gigi (Marisa Tomei), Dominic’s sister, and her beautiful assistant Ava (Isabelle McNally) offers the first seductive distraction. Gigi shows up drunk that night and Raphael conjures old feelings for her. A few days later, Wayne (Rockwell), Gigi’s estranged boyfriend, and his surfer brother (Brian Geraghty) stop by and turn away any potential for productivity. Dominic is the only person stressed about this, which means he sits in his room, frantically types and angrily stares at his screen above others’ laughter.

From there the film splinters and you’d rather see Loitering With Intent stay with Rockwell and Tomei, watch them mend their relationship. But director Adam Rapp doesn’t know where this film’s strength is even when he’s captured it. Like a scene where you witness the mental trauma Wayne still has inside him. Rockwell engages in lucid conversation with Geraghty and then he pauses. “Come here,” he says, motioning his brother towards him just a few feet away. Suddenly the moment has stakes. You’re not sure if something violent is lurking or it’s just an unusual facade to make a joke. It’s the moment you realize that for a film wanting to be taken seriously, it’s missing this kind of seriousness.

– Jake Kring-Schreifels

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