Directed by Ramin Serry
Loveless is actually two movies about pre-midlife panic, frustrated artistic ambition, and the mysteries of money in Manhattan: one movie, in which the filmmakers appear alongside their friends, is acid and familiar; the other, professionally cast, is ominously, goofily allegorical. We begin in medias res with self-sabotaging dandy Andrew (Andrew Von Urtz, ad old friend of writer-director Ramin Serry), trying to pick up a blond in a bar—"You're an alcoholic? Oh, an actress"—and his social circle. As Serry's nervy, intimate handheld camera keys into the dry, brisk repartee, Andrew bobs and weaves between his desk job, his too-tight-for-the-camera East Village den, bars he's too old for, and the Soho lofts and Long Island income properties of friends now reaping the emotional and financial rewards of much better choices. Like Roger Greenberg, he's getting too old for this modern-immaturity shit. ("We're all adults!" a portfolio-flaunting friend shouts at dinner.) Serry and his wife and the film's producer, New Yorker staffer Shauna Lyon, play old friends—Andrew panics when asked to hold their baby at a dinner party.
So far, so well-executed self-critical indie self-absorption. But there's a great joke, 15 minutes in, when Andrew follows hair-straightening club girl Ava (Genevieve Hudson-Price) to a "party"—which turns out, despite the sullen kid manning the door, to be a lame middle-aged birthday party. Here, Serry introduces Ava's brothers, chiefly effusive, haywire Ricky (go-to Jewish professional Scott Cohen), who guilelessly, avidly take all their direction from conversations with their very revered, very deceased deli-owner patriarch.
As Andrew and a cut-adrift ex (Cindy Chastain) reconnect, and seek out Faustian bargains with finance douchebags for Andrew's movie—which may exist, and may be pathetic self-mythologizing—the family continues its encircling embrace of Andrew: Ricky, grinning or furious, and Ava, needy or flirty, keep showing up at his office, weekend getaways, outside his building, at his lunch dates, always eager to share the latest news from Dad. ("We're just a normal family," Ava poutily protests at one point. "No, you're not," Andrew replies, presumably still reeling from Ricky's oil painting of Dad fighting off looters in the '77 blackout.)
Andrew's tale is, on the one hand, a reflex reflexive tale of modern immaturity, with Serry and family's presence adding another uneasily intimate layer to the jokes about the quixotic nature of indie film financing. But as Andrew strings along temptation in the form of Ava, and slips deeper into the wormhole of her family, Serry uses their cultishness to goose Loveless, paying teasing homage to older, even more off-kilter movies about NYC's hidden power centers—like After Hours and Rosemary's Baby.
Opens February 18 at the rerun Gastropub Theater