Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Written & Directed By: Lawrence Michael Levine 
Cinematography By: Mark Scwartzbard 
Editor: Sofi Marshall 

Cast: Sophie Takal, Lawrence Michael Levine, Kevin Corrigan, Alia Shawkat, Jason Ritter, Annie Parisse, Elonore Henricks, Jennifer Kim, Kent Osborne

A Brooklyn couple suspects foul play when their rent controlled neighbor suddenly drops dead.

This is a film that lives up to the Woody Allen movie title MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY only set in Brooklyn. It also love More in spirit to the film or at least finding it's true inspiration from that film as it is at the heart of this film what it boils down to, just being set in a different borough of New York.

The film begins by seeming like another look at a New York couple and exploring their relationship. Staying in a purely comedic mood throughout the film. A death is introduced then a suspicion that it might have been murder. That stays as a subplot while exposing and bringing to the forefront the main characters relationships and it's problems also introducing various friends Into the plot who play pivotal roles in both the mystery and the relationship.

What fuels the film is that anytime the main characters become overly whiny or just plain unbearable. The mystery comes back into play distracting them and engaging us. The film almost could have been perfect if it would have maybe played with certain suggestions that maybe the people they suspect. Though act suspicious and strange are acting the way they always have. It's just now that they have really chosen to really look and examine them. That makes them look suspect and says more about the people looking into it. One could also look at it as the characters lead such a charmed life that they let their imaginations get the better of them. Out of boredom and to avoid their own personal problems.

Once everything becomes clear in the third act. It has the makings of not only a much. More darker film, but a standard film-noir filled with a wildly intricate plot that seems way too complex for the characters. Though manages to stay somewhat believable. Truthfully thanks to the the main characters who stay comedic throughout even in scenes of suspense.

The film keeps a light touch. It stays loose and fun. The main characters stay likeable despite themselves at times.

The writer-director-star Lawrence Michael Levine wisely realizes that anytime things become too dramatic and might drag the mood of the film down. To insert some kind of calamity and comedic touch even when danger is right there.

He obviously gives himself plenty of material to work with, but also wisely gives his co-stars screen time to make their characters felt and defined. While he at times just happens to be in the background or more or less there In Character to draw them out. His co-lead Sophie takal is glorious and hilarious as his fiancé and the instigator of this whole wild plot. Annie Parraise also makes a mark as his ex-girlfriend, business partner. She is both temptation and best friend to his character and he audience can understand his dilemma, but also why he keeps her around and so close.

Plus Alia Shawkat as Takal's best friend and co-conspirator is really coming into her own. While still having memories of her a maybe from ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. This is truly the first more adult role for her where she seems at ease and truly seems more like a young lady instead of a teenager on the cusp of womanhood.

Obviously the film pays a debt to New York filmmakers such as Woody Allen. Though the film also shows a certain debt to urban mysteries and relationship dramas.

Grade: B-

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