Despite strong moments, “Loitering with Intent” ultimately lacks follow-through

By Jena Keahon
Via Variety
Via Variety

Adam Rapp’s new film “Loitering With Intent” starts out strong, but quickly deteriorates into a superficial mess as the film progresses.

The story centers around two friends and struggling actors in New York City who lie to their producer friend (Natasha Lyonne) about having written a screenplay that other producers and directors are interested in. When she tells them that she’ll show it to her boss who’s looking to fund a low-budget film, the two friends have 10 days to complete an entire script. In search of solace and inspiration, Dominic (Michael Godere) and Raphael (Ivan Martin) head out to the countryside to write in a house owned by Dominic’s sister Gigi (Marisa Tomei). Expecting peace and quiet, the pair find themselves distracted by the arrival of a very distraught Gigi and her friend the beautiful, young gardener Ava (Isabelle McNally). They are also sucked into the drama between Gigi and the arrival her ex-boyfriend Wayne (Sam Rockwell), particularly Raph, who had previously dated Gigi and is still in love with her.

As Godere and Martin wrote the film, one can’t help but wonder just how autobiographical “Loitering” is. The two leads have great chemistry, and there are some genuinely funny and heartfelt moments between them. However, their interactions with the other characters are lacking. While the relationships between the characters start out as intriguing and full of promise, the film unfortunately only scratches the surface of these relationships, and the characters are never explored fully.

Although Tomei gives a delightful performance as Gigi, the character never manages to escape the “manic pixie dream girl” trope. All of the characters are in love with Gigi and are amused by her antics, yet she has no depth or resolution. The same goes for Ava, who does nothing but act as a muse for Dominic, and as an object of lust for Wayne’s friend, Devon (Brian Geraghty).

Unsurprisingly, Sam Rockwell is the standout in the film. Although his character has PTSD and an inclination toward violence, Rockwell underplays it. He is a terrifying presence onscreen, and one that is impossible to keep your eyes off of. What’s especially brilliant about Rockwell’s performance is the palpable difference in his eyes as to when he is calm and normalized as opposed to when he is triggered. He looks dead in the eyes as he feigns calmness in an attempt to rein in his anger, and they only brighten after the confrontations have ended. Rockwell’s Wayne is a ticking time bomb, making you tense up as you watch the violence brewing underneath him and wonder when he is going to explode.

Ultimately, while “Loitering With Intent” has some genuine moments of humor and realism, the film never manages to dig deep into any of the relationships it introduces.

Jen Keahon is a contributing writer. Email her at film@nyunews.com.

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