SHE'S AN INDEPENDENT film director, but Rose Troche's romantic confections are classic Hollywood, with a twist. Her likable 1994 lesbian coming-of-ager Go Fish used hand-held shooting and grainy black-and-white footage to lend immediacy to an endearing little romance. Her sometimes clumsy sophomore feature, Bedrooms & Hallways, mixes screwball farce with sophisticated sitcom—skewing toward the latter. Yet her generous direction allows every love-addled character both dignity and charm, even through the most contrived and kooky complications.
Hollander and Graham make cute.
BEDROOMS & HALLWAYS
directed by Rose Troche
starring Simon Callow, Kevin McKidd,
Tom Hollander, and Hugo Weaving
plays October 8-14 at Egyptian
Leo (Kevin McKidd) is an endearing pup of a blue-eyed lad looking for love—the old-fashioned romantic kind, with a happily-ever-after. Convinced to join a friend's drum-thumping "New Men's Group," he confesses an attraction to another member of the circle in the spirit of sharing. ("Let these strong loving men heal you!" begs Simon Callow's Keith, a man perhaps too strongly in touch with his own inner guru.) Leo's the only ostensibly gay man in the group, but the others inevitably start exploring their own sexual identities, prodded by the ever-thoughtful and cartoonishly serious Keith: "Don't be so British. You've all got to share your feelings!"
CALLOW STEALS THE movie as this New-Age Iron John, but B&H's often hilarious skewering of machismo and sensitive-guy stereotypes ultimately devolves into obvious potshots and easy gags. Leo's romantic gadfly roommate hooks up with a real estate agent (the sly, haughtily confident Hugo Weaving) with a set of keys and a penchant for sex in other people's bedrooms, yet this subplot similarly deteriorates into a series of goofy escapades.
The most meaningful relationship in the film is built between Leo and his childhood sweetheart Sally (Jennifer Ehle), who brightens B&H with her sunny smile and wounded-yet-spirited tenderness. Amid the painfully trite couplings between ricocheting couples-to-be, their friendship is the bedrock of the film, as when they fall asleep in a chaste embrace on his couch, adrift in the romantic bliss that surrounds them. It's a beautiful moment, invested with more genuine feeling than any other relationship in this genial, funny, but far too flippant little comedy. It makes me wish for a script more worthy of Troche's affection.