I MELT WITH YOU Burns On Demand Before TheatersNovember 02, 2011

I MELT WITH YOU Burns On Demand Before Theaters

Magnolia Pictures

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: I MELT WITH YOU (Magnolia).

 

I MELT WITH YOU

By Chris Claro

 

If Barry Levinson’s DINER represents the youthful-male-bonding flick, and Rob Reiner’s THE BUCKET LIST is the geezer model of the genre, we now have a contender for the film that falls squarely between the two. Mark Pellington’s I MELT WITH YOU is the story of four guys in their mid-forties whose yearly reunion finds them attempting to hold on to what’s left of their youth and their integrity. An overcaffeinated, overwrought, onslaught of middle-age angst, I MELT WITH YOU is an assault on the eyes and ears that says very little as loudly as it possibly can.

English teacher and failed novelist Richard (Thomas Jane, HUNG) is the first to arrive at the sleek Big Sur house overlooking the Pacific. Next is Tim (Christian McKay, ME AND ORSON WELLES), a sloe-eyed and doleful sort who has suffered an unspecified loss. They’re soon joined by Ron (Jeremy Piven, ENTOURAGE), a trader in trouble with the SEC, and Jonathan (Rob Lowe, PARKS AND RECREATION), a Dr. Feelgood who parses out painkillers to all the real housewives craving numbness.

 


Thomas Jane, Rob Lowe & Jeremy Piven / I MELT WITH YOU (Magnolia)

In addition to copious quantities of liquor, the quartet engages in 80s-level mountains of cocaine and enough pills to sedate a wildlife preserve. Pellington slowly – much too slowly – reveals their demons and does so by breaking out every gimmick that he used as a director of music videos for Public Enemy, Siverchair, and Foo Fighters: flash-cutting, overexposing the film, undercranking the camera, and a relentless soundtrack filled with artists known for their less-than-mellow tones, including the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Dead Kennedys.

 


Thomas Jane & Mark Pellington / I MELT WITH YOU (Magnolia)

It’s not until about an hour into Pellington’s gallimaufry that a shred of a story emerges, one that hinges on an agreement made back in the day by the four buddies. When that number dwindles to three, local sheriff Carla Gugino (RIGHTEOUS KILL), who’s about as credible as a cop as she would be portraying the pope, starts snooping around, and I MELT WITH YOU finally – and I do mean “finally” – gains some momentum in the rush to its inexorable and predictable conclusion.

 

A little of Pellington’s aggressive, in-your-face style goes a long way and it’s likely that MELT would have been affecting at 95 minutes or so. At 116, it becomes an ordeal. The film spends nearly an hour on the excesses of its characters and clichés such as the impromptu party wherein the seen-it-all foursome imparts condescending wisdom to their young guests – including Sasha Grey of Soderbergh’s THE GIRLFRIEND EXPERIENCE – and shows them how real men consume massive quantities of medicinals, both orally and nasally.

 



The director’s hyperkinetic dial-spinning and button-pushing detracts from the work of the actors, which is a shame because I MELT WITH YOU boasts some terrific performances. Lowe shows surprising depth as the physician who has destroyed his family, his practice, and himself through his pill habit. HIs rapid descent from footloose pretty boy to desperate addict is powerful and gives the actor the chance to show moves that he doesn’t get to display on series television.

 



Likewise, Piven, so often a mannered actor who seems incapable of subtlety, does a superb job depicting a man at the end of his rope. Clinging to his mantra of “I never cheated on my wife,” Piven’s Ron is a Madoff-style trader and a victim of his own otherwise amorphous morality, having bilked millions from his clients. As the feds close in on him, Piven shows how Ron’s cowardice has forced him into a corner, leading to one of the most disturbing scenes in a film that is generally cold and unaffecting.

Jane shows many of the same colors we’ve come to know from him through HUNG, most notably, a nonchalance and bravado that masks deep hurt and insecurity. As the partiers move from reveling to revealing to worse, it falls to Jane’s Richard to attempt to maintain the increasingly cracked façade in the face of questions from the ever-less-believing Gugino.

 



From Cassavetes’s HUSBANDS to the multiple film iterations of Jason Miller’s Broadway hit, THAT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON, the guy-talk genre is a mainstay and Pellington can be credited with trying to do something novel. But like the last guest lingering at the party, the bloated length and pretensions of I MELT WITH YOU get in the way of doing the dishes and heading to bed. It’s recommended only. If booze-fueled navel gazing with a bunch of indulgent man-children is your idea of a good time, I MELT WITH YOU is your kind of flick. Me? I’m making an early night of it and leaving this party with my senses intact.

 

RISK IT

 

- Chris Claro

Chris
Chris Claro is a contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. He is a former Director of Promotion for Sundance Channel and now works as a writer, producer, and media educator. He is a regular contributor to dvdverdict.com and contributor to the Eyes and Ears section of huffingtonpost.com

 

Look for I MELT WITH YOU (Magnolia) in your local cable movies on demand section.

 

Mark Pellington's DIRECTOR'S STATEMENT

 

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