3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
xx/xy First-time filmmaker Chick takes an intriguing look at the battle of the sexes in this well-acted drama spanning some 10 years in the life of three main characters. We meet them in 1993 when they're all students in New York; Coles (Ruffalo) is in love with Sam (Stange) and lusting after Thea (Robertson) and thinks he can have them both ... maybe at the same time. But it all goes horribly wrong. A decade later a chance encounter brings them together again, and they're all in serious relationships: Coles has been living with Claire (Wright) for five years, Thea is happily married to a restaurant owner (Thornton), and Sam has just split from her British fiance (Spafford). So Coles has a choice to make--something he's never been very good at.

There's nothing terribly original about this; basically it's just a chick flick about people obsessing constantly over sex and relationships! But the performances make it watchable. Ruffalo brings a jittery edginess to Coles that makes him sympathetic but never very likeable--basically he's everything women hate in a man and yet are powerless to resist! The other standout is Wright, who gives a subtle, clever turn as a strong woman who doesn't feel the need to control everyone around her, even when they cloud the water of her otherwise clear life. Meanwhile, Stange's more conservative Sam and Robertson's more free-spirited Thea have a nifty role-swap halfway through the film (hair-colour and all), while maintaining their sexy personalities. Through it all, Chick maintains an artfully jumpy style of writing, directing and editing that makes if feel painfully real. The story does get a bit repetitive, especially with Coles' constant hound-like behaviour, and the screenplay has a tendency to moralise, but it's an intriguing and inventively made film that's worth a look.

cert 15 themes, language, sex, drugs 19.Aug.03

dir-scr Austin Chick
with Mark Ruffalo, Maya Stange, Kathleen Robertson, Petra Wright, David Thornton, Kel O'Neill, Joshua Spafford, Joey Kern, Zach Shaffer, John A MacKay, Paula Roth, Lee Cobb
release US 11.Apr.03; UK 24.Oct.03
02/US 1h31

Men are from Mars: Ruffalo and Wright.

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2003 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall