Broward and Palm Beach are drowning in independent cinemas. You'd never know it during a day at the mall, but small theaters like the Gateway and Cinema Paradiso in Broward and the Lake Worth Playhouse and Living Room in Palm Beach are booming. This week, we provide short reviews of some of the small cinemas' programming. In future weeks, we hope to do more of the same.
Starring Anna Mouglalis, Louis Garrel, Olga Milshtein, and Rebecca Covenant. Directed by Philippe Garrel. Not rated. Opens Friday at Lake Worth Playhouse, 713 Lake Ave., Lake Worth; 561-586-6169; lakeworthplayhouse.org.
Vital and vigorous even when its characters feel scraped of vigor/vitality, Philippe Garrel's latest finds boho Parisians facing the ends of marriages, affairs, and the feasibility of bohemian existence itself. "I can handle being broke but not being poor," sighs unemployed actress Claudia (Anna Mouglalis) not all that long after Louis (Louis Garrel, the director's son) leaves his family to shack up with her in a hovel that seems charming when love is fresh but grim when it's growing stale. There's terrific power in scenes of the lovers — and occasionally Louis' daughter Charlotte (Olga Milshtein) from the busted marriage — reveling in their romantic newness. Both generations of Garrel also offer extraordinary work in the breakup that opens the film: Louis' wife, Clothilde (Rebecca Covenant), pleads with him not to leave, while Charlotte observes through a keyhole. Clothilde, we learn, has already given up on her artistic dreams, opting to work in an office to provide for herself and her daughter. Louis, himself a struggling actor, seems to be fleeing that fate as much as that relationship. Director Garrel also holds to impractical ideals but beautifully so: We hear and feel his characters breathe and are given ample time to study their raw and gorgeous faces and also the masks these lost souls hide behind. In the final reels, when that new romance begins to go the way of the old one, the film's urgent drive seems to leak away — intentionally. This daring choice will feel right to those who appreciate verisimilitude in fiction. Alan Scherstuhl
The One I Love
Starring Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, and Ted Danson. Rated R. Opens Friday at Living Room Theaters, FAU Main Campus, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton; 561-549-2600; fau.livingroomtheaters.com.
This high-concept romantic comedy boasts a great hook, a killer cast, and a gutsiness that's rare in movies where nice but troubled married couples get one last weekend to work things out. Too bad that cast — Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss — is stuck embodying vague ideas of men and women rather than any specific men and women we might feel moved to care for. The edges and nicks are what distinguish us from one another, and from the get-go, this couple feels gel-capped. That's a real problem, since the central trick is — well, what follows is a spoiler the distributor would prefer we not spill. The film presents each member of its lead couple with an idealized, possibly magical version of the other. The gag is that in a country house prescribed them by their therapist (Ted Danson), she meets the him she's always wanted — he does sit-ups! And vice versa — she lets him eat bacon! But sit-ups and bacon aren't just amusing, incidental details I've selected from a pile; they're almost the full extent of what the filmmakers have come up with to distinguish the dream mates from the real ones. Moss' and Duplass' best moments come when their confused characters (Ethan and Sophie) first work out that something strange is going on and then decide to roll with it. Sophie crinkles up with brittle glee, but she's also the power in the relationship, using that glee to nudge Ethan along. Scenes with the improved better halves, meanwhile, rarely spark and often kick off like improv exercises: Two actors standing there, grinning, waiting to see what the other's going to do. Some of the surprise works, but the final gotcha won't getcha. Alan Scherstuhl
Directed by Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo. Not Rated. Opens Friday at Mos'Art Theatre, 700 Park Ave., Lake Park; 561-881-7677; mosarttheatre.com. Also at Cinema Paradiso - Lauderdale (503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale) and Cinema Paradiso - Hollywood (2008 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood); 954-525-3456; fliff.com.
And at Living Room Theaters, FAU Main Campus, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton; 561-549-2600; fau.livingroomtheaters.com.
The directors of Rich Hill, cousins Tracy Droz Tragos and Andrew Droz Palermo, didn't pick the rural Missouri town at random. Their family hails from Rich Hill, where their grandparents (a teacher and grocer/mailman) were widely known. The remarkable ease their documentary subjects display reflects the trust Tragos (Be Good, Smile Pretty) and Palermo engendered, and their Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner shows obvious affection for this economically depressed community. They capture many extraordinarily candid moments, but Rich Hill does not add up to more than a series of vignettes. What it offers is a compassionate look at the intricacies of American poverty, where joblessness is only one factor. The teens in Rich Hill also deal with mental health issues and chronic disease, incarceration and abuse, abandonment and instability, discontentment, and violence. The educational and juvenile-justice systems seem intertwined. Family members develop coping methods, and finding long-term solutions is trumped by daily needs. At 12, Appachey is defiant and angry, lashing out at his mother, sisters, and classmates and no longer finding pleasure in skateboarding. With a knife collection and a propensity for outbursts, 15-year-old Harley would be frightening if he didn't use humor to diffuse his worries. Andrew, 13, possesses a disarming frankness and an optimism that few around him can muster. His frustration with (and love for) an errant father demonstrates an early understanding of the difference between dreams and goals. A return visit (like the Seven Up series) would be welcome. As it stands, Rich Hill feels half-formed. Serena Donadoni