10:43 a.m., Sept. 22
To paraphrase Capote’s line about the author and his murderous subject growing up in the same house, with one walking out the front door and one out the back: Ethan Hawke and Winona Ryder starred in the same 1994 rom-com, Reality Bites, and it’s as if one day, he strolled off into Before Sunrise and 23 years later, she stumbled into this claustrophobic two-step with an extremely game Keanu Reeves. (Claustrophobic because, while it’s set during a wedding weekend in the sun-drenched hills of Paso Robles, no one else speaks a word throughout; this in keeping with the film’s subtitle: A Narcissist Can’t Die Because Then the Entire World Would End. Also in keeping with the feeling that writer-director Victor Levin is very much on display.) It may seem a little tardy, but that’s the partly the point: everything is wrong for these two. She’s a basket case still not over the groom five years after the fact, and he’s a train wreck down on love, humanity, and definitely her. But what’s that they say about shared misery and common enemies? It almost works: the steady barrage of banter is almost funny and/or insightful enough, the chemistry between the charming-despite-themselves stars almost fun enough, the arc of their relationship almost believable enough. For me, anyway; I needed it nastier at the outset and feistier in the middle. Your enjoyment may depend on how cheekily delightful you find it that they keep up the chatter even during a hillside hump: “Can we please stop talking about your mother?” “I’m killing time.” 2018.