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Love on the Rocks
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by Jay Seaver

"... ain't no little surprise."
4 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2010 BOSTON UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL: There are many varieties of "edgy", but most can fit within two broad categories: Those that make a mainstream viewer say "ewwwww!" and those that make that same mainstream viewer say "what the hell?". There is, as one would imagine, some overlap, such as in films like "Love on the Rocks". This one's got a fair amount of ewwwww before making its major WTH detour.

Amber (Lauren Jennings) is a nice girl. She's been dating Gavin (Nicholas Tecosky) for four and a half years before he dumps her because he wants to play the field, and has probably put up with being taken for granted for nearly that long. Still, a blind date with Patrick (Justin Welborn) goes well, and soon they're seeing each other. After a while, though, she's just not feeling it, but has a hard time breaking up with him. Which may be a blessing in disguise, because Patrick is very clingy, and has a basement full of the corpses of women with whom it didn't work out.

Love on the Rocks starts with Patrick "ending a relationship", but the murders are only a part of the movie's thesis. That would be that neither men nor women are capable of a healthy relationship, because they tend toward certain basic personality types: Men are either monsters like Patrick, or ruled by their animal instincts like Gavin. Women don't come off much better; Amber is a doormat afraid of relationship failure, but women like her best friend and roommate Stacie (Terri James) - and the pop-psychology author she swears by (Noelle Monteleone) - don't seem to consider men their equals, but animals to control.

That's not a bad thing, actually. In fact, Writer/director Justin Edwards handles it pretty well. Although this is a movie filled with characters and situations that are symbols of broader concepts, sometimes in an insanely literal manner, it doesn't feel pretentious for it. It's perfectly possible to experience Love on the Rocks as a bizarre black comedy without having to decrypt (or invent) multiple layers to explain it. There are some problems with the story - I've got no problem with the absolutely goofy scenario Gavin finds himself in during the last act, but the way it suddenly connects to Patrick is a bit too large a coincidence - but the way in which he handles the tone of the movie as the last act plays out is impressive: He introduces a level of absurdity into the story to counterbalance the grimness without losing the movie's edge.

The cast is decent, within the relatively narrow range of what they've got to do. Justin Welborn does a nice job of underplaying Patrick, playing his insecurity up more than his psychosis. Nicholas Tecosky has a one-note character, but hits that jerk note consistently. Lauren Jennings is actually almost too likable as Amber; it sometimes takes a bit of an extra effort to see her as weak as opposed to victimized by forces beyond her control. Still, the movie benefits from them not playing broad caricatures; it feels less like Edwards is just setting up straw men.

And, who knows, things may not be as hopeless as all that. After all, there's got to be some hope for anyone who can survive that insanity.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=20461&reviewer=371
originally posted: 03/30/10 15:18:58
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2010 Boston Underground Film Festival For more in the 2010 Boston Underground Film Festival series, click here.

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