(Movie Review by Anthony Casella) For a movie about a wannabe filmmaker struggling to find inspiration for his movie while in New York City, there’s seemingly little having to do with subject of celluloid in “…Around,” produced, written and directed by David Spaltro. Instead, tired clichés and a predictable ending take up most of the generally uninspired running time, with only a handful of bright spots along the way.
The film is centered on Doyle Simms, a hardened high school grad who leaves his rough home life and perpetually angry mother in Jersey City to pursue his dream of attending film school in the Big Apple. After some unsuccessful loan applications, resulting in zero money and no place to live, Doyle’s forced to sleep in a train station and take a job at a café to earn money when he’s not attending class. Then, like most stories that feature the protagonist pushed into a world he or she’s not accustomed to, Doyle meets a wide array of characters that teach him valuable lessons about life and love.
Despite the stilted dialogue in the film (Doyle’s mother actually says to him at one point, “You came into this world sliming out of my vagina”), some of the scenes between Doyle and his New York City acquaintances really work; the best are between him and a homeless man he meets who also lives in the train station and shows Doyle the way to survive on very little and still keep your pride up. Not as engaging are the scenes devoted to Doyle’s attraction to Allison, a fellow student he meets on campus. The two end up employed at the same café and their interactions feel more like a concerted effort to include a romance in the film rather than a natural progression of two people who happen to like each other.
The film, broken up in four years to reflect Doyle’s time in school, does a good job of tracking the ups and downs he experiences in the city and in his social life, but never delves deep enough into why his character is so driven to make movies in the first place. The closest thing to a reason we get is seeing him at the movie theater as a child. We know he has a film due at the end of his four years, and though he seems to stress out about it, he doesn’t seem too worried to actually work on it, making his actual journey through film school feel like a mere subplot that’s resurrected at the end.
The best thing about “…Around” is the performance by Rob Evans, who infuses the thankless character of Doyle with passionate determination and a broken down sort of charm. Imagine a more put-upon, pedestrian Ryan Gosling. When the acting around him veers into vacancy or melodrama, Evans never loses the motivation for his character or hits a false note. It’s a notable performance that sticks out in an otherwise forgettable film.
David Spaltro (director) / David Spaltro (screenplay)
CAST: Robert W. Evans … Doyle Simms
Molly Ryman … Allyson Lodeir
Deborah Arters … Financial Advisor
Jean Pierre Barthelby … MC Chocolate Milk
David Joseph Boyd … Bryan
Ron Brice … Saul
Sarah Croce … Leona