Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Dull/Gays: "Role/Play" (2010)

"Role/Play" is a look at two celebrities dealing with the high cost of fame in today's internet-driven world.

Graham (Steve Callahan) is a closeted gay soap opera actor whose sex tape with an unidentified man has just hit the web. He is fired from his show, and conspires with his agent Bernie (Jim J. Bullock) on his next move. In the meantime, he is decompressing at an inn in Palm Springs owned by Alex (David Pevsner). Another well-known guest, Trey (Matthew Montgomery), also arrives at the quiet inn. Trey is a vocal gay-marriage advocate. Unfortunately, he is going through some drama of his own, having cheated on his new spouse and currently seeking a divorce after pushing his pro-gay marriage opinions on the public.

The two men meet and argue, but eventually find themselves falling for each other. They must also deal with some big secrets they are keeping concerning their respective scandals, and how the truth might change their new relationship.

Rob Williams directs his own script, with most of the film taking place at the inn. Williams' direction is as static as his screenplay, which seems more like an aborted stage production than a filmed comedy-drama. This is one talky flick. Both main characters discuss the price of fame ad nauseum, and I was eventually turned off by the whining quality of some of the clunky dialogue. Graham and Trey are likable characters, but their analyses (self and otherwise) got to be a bit much. I found Alex and Ricky (Brian Nolan), another guest, more interesting, but their screen time was limited as we get scene after scene of Graham and Trey discussing their opinions of each others' problems. Callahan and Montgomery's frequent nudity seemed like a reason to wake up the audience more than a natural occurrence. Bullock literally phones in his performance, and is given nothing to do.

Jake Monaco provides some catchy songs and a nice musical score, and the sunshine is lovely to look at during the exterior scenes. However, once the film ends, I felt let down by the preachiness of the script and the inability of some of the actors to deal with the poor dialogue. Seriously, there are some lighter moments here that thud and die (especially Ricky and Trey's scene), and I felt bad for all involved. I am familiar with Montgomery from other films, and know he is capable of much more. Callahan looks like he belongs on a soap, and has a nice charm. It is too bad Williams could not take advantage of these willing performers and written something more specific or revelatory for their characters.

"Role/Play" could have made quite a comment on our celebrity culture, but instead lurks in the margins, regurgitating talking points and predictability. For such a talky film, it has little wisdom to share. (* *) out of five stars.