A distinctly unlikable movie about dislikable people, writer/director/actor Marianna Palka's mumblecore version of dysfunctional romance is the most unromantic picture of the year. Palka plays an unnamed deer-in-the-headlights malcontent whose past sexual traumas, involving her father (played by Tom Arnold), have left her running nightly to her local Los Angeles video store to rent softcore fetish porn. Jason Ritter (a co-producer on the film) plays a video store clerk living out of his car who becomes smitten with the physically off-limits porn addict. The two fall into a troubled platonic affair in which Palka's sullen-eyed bitch relentlessly verbally assails Ritter's submissive character, apparently to fulfill his daily quota of rejection. If Palka's expressed theme, that laziness and misery go hand in hand, was the extent of her cinematic essay then it might not be so simple write off the poorly executed movie. But Palka’s uncertain attempt at redeeming her cruel and bitter protagonist comes off as under-worked and self-righteous. Here is a date movie that will probably cause a lot of break-ups.
Rated R. 86 mins. (D) (One Star)