Let’s start this review with just the facts. Tre is an eighty-seven minute movie from Cinema Libre Studio coming out on DVD May 6th, 2008. It stars four promising actors and takes place, mostly, in a house in Calabasas in the mountains above Los Angeles. It’s rated R for language, sexual content, drug use and nudity. It’s a sequel to Charlotte Sometimes, also co-written and directed by Eric Byler.
In brief, the easiest thing to say about this movie is, though the production values are high the morals and overall story are as low as they can go. What starts out as a story about enduring friendships and the trials and tribulations of love turns into a maudlin version of a WWF Smackdown. There are no rules and no survivors.
The main character, Tre (Danial Cariaga), shows up at his best friend’s house so drunk he’s completely incoherent. He manages to explain to Gabe (Erik McDowell) that his girlfriend threw him out and he needs a place to crash. Gabe informs him that his old room is occupied by Nina (Alix Koromzay), his girlfriend’s best friend, so Tre will have to sleep on the couch. The next morning Tre manages to completely offend Nina by acting like a pig and asking a series of obnoxiously inappropriate and embarassingly personal questions about her seperation from her husband, which is why she’s sleeping in Tre’s old room. Next we meet Kakela (Kimberly-Rose Wolter, the other co-author), Gabe’s live-in girlfriend, who isn’t surprised to see Tre crashed out in their house, yet again. Tre quickly proves to be not only irreverent and disrespectful but carelessly oblivious, as well. It becomes crystal clear why Tre’s love life is actually slightly more successful than his non-existent career.
Before you know it Tre sleeps with Nina, upsetting Kakela in the process. So much so that it causes her to doubt herself after she accepts Gabe’s marriage proposal. Nina admits to everyone that the reason she left her husband was because her husband kissed another woman for ten seconds. That incident becomes the defining impetus for the entire film. Eventually we see some of the reasons behind why Tre is so hell bent on raging against the world. After smoking pot with Kakela he turns quietly philosophical and tells her, “I reject the notion that a steady job makes me successful and that a college degree makes me smart.” He then presses her to admit that she likes him and dares her to hold his hand for “just ten seconds” to see if what Nina says about it being much longer than you’d expect is true. After that little experiment the relationships, the moral compass and the entire story line with them go right out the window.
The description on the back of the DVD says, “Sexual competition and moral ambiguity are the only constants…” Which is a very clever way to say that just about everyone in this film ends up so battered, emotionally and quite literally, that even their therapists will need crisis intervention. Tre is a movie about people who are just as guilty of victimizing as they are being the victims. No one seems capable of stopping as they all turn to, and on, one another. It’s like watching a group of lambs get rabies.
I’m sure that many critics watch this film with an eye for the human drama and slick dialogue. It’s all well portrayed by actors who know their craft. Even the sex scenes seem awkward because you’re never quite sure if the characters like each other or just want one more person to take out their angst on. Cinematography and acting just can’t make up for a story that ends, quite abruptly and unsatisfactorily, with some kind of existential pop psychology twist that will have you shouting “WHAT??” at the end credits. This film could easily have been redeemed with just another ten minutes in which the characters grew consciences and learned from their mistakes. Instead, it just feels like the aftermath left behind after a hopeful but failed attempt at a family reunion between the Hatfields and the McCoys.
Eric Byler (director) / Kimberly-Rose Wolter, Eric Byler (screenplay)
CAST: Daniel Cariaga … Tre
Alix Koromzay … Nina
Erik McDowell … Gabe
Kimberly-Rose Wolter … Kakela