And You Thought You Fucked Up In College
Wrt/Dir: Austin Chick
Str. Mark Ruffalo, Kathleen Robinson, Petra Wright, Maya
Opens April 11th
Ruffalo wearing a classic Bedford hipster ensemble and oozing
sticky charm the way that he does, opens XX/YY by walking
into a subway, jumping the turn style (to show how bad ass
he is) and generally being that sweet but sexy package I
so greatly missed in View From The Top. Nice to see him
back on his game. From there the movie quickly descends
into the wet dream of every lonely guy on Craig's List's
Missed Connections: Coles Burroughs (possibly the most fictitious
name in cinematic history) finds himself in a three-way
with a cute sprightly college girl (Stange) and an old cast
member of Bev 90210 (Robinson). Could it get any better,
you wonder? Well no, but yes.
XX/YY starts out on very rocky ground. The first half of
the movie, which takes place in 1993, feels a little too
much like an indie movie trying hard to be independent.
I grant you this translates to lots of semi-gratuitous naked
flesh, but the earnestness of the writing feels out of place.
Couple that with clichéd lines like "I want
to make movies. Movies that make people think" and
it becomes a little hard to swallow. Don't get me wrong,
I love indie, but you know when you walk into the cheese
section of a really good Upper East Side grocery store?
All that stinky cheese becomes a little overwhelming; XX/XY
smells of indie just a little too much.
Chick chooses, a la In The Bedroom, to leave out a score
and rely almost exclusively on 'of the moment music' (there's
only music if someone is listening to the stereo for example).
This can be a very dangerous choice and while it does leave
some dragging gaps in the dialogue it gives the moment where
there are music that much more of an impact. While it falters
from the get-go, there are some moments where the conversation
sparkles, and the acting is good across the board (yes,
even the chick from 90210). Also the piles of sex and drugs
and stupid college things the kids do bring up some well-loved
Once the second half of the movie starts, however, everything
changes. Set in the present time, the movie no longer feels
mired in the memories of college. The writing is clearer
and the wit sharper. Coles' character, which feels somewhat
two dimensional in the beginning, grows exponentially; this,
not because Chick decides to give him more depth, but because
you slowly learn how complex he is and always has been.
Also in the second half Petra Wright joins the party and
gives an astonishing performance as Claire, Coles' current
girlfriend. She is flat out brilliant. Wright, alone, carries
much of the second half of the movie but Ruffalo also shines
as a spineless, immature kid who never grew up. Ultimately,
while not without some very brilliant merits, XX/YY is also
not without its faults.
Four gorgeous bubbly boy butts
Not to be lewd or anything, but there is a lot of Mark Ruffalo's
ass wandering in and out of the camera shots here. I don't
know what they were supposed to symbolize or anything, but
thank you, Mr. Chick!
Three sticks in the mud, and other, even lamer clichés
The real problems arise from the clichéd dialog peppered
throughout the film. Maya Stange can't get "Can you
find it in your heart to forgive me" out of her mouth
without wincing a little bit. The lines feel more like puns,
jokes than real pieces of dialogue. The groans from the
audience that accompanied these lines were far too telltale.
Two oversexed, under-loved hipsters
The first forty minutes of the film feel directionless and
sophomoric. However, there are subtle touches to the dialogue
and some very remarkable shots that prove Chick's prowess
and ensure him a future in the business. The dialogue between
Ruffalo and Wright while they floss their teeth, for example,
and the shot that accompanies it is brilliant.