Directed by Daniel Schecter
In this light and likable indie, two film editors try to save a movie beset with tonal and pacing problems while also trying to repair troubled relationships both personal and professional. A pair of intertwined character studies, the movie centers on indie-ubiquitous Alex Karpovsky, whose hyper-articulate self-possession always gives his performances a unique edge, especially as he's part of a generation known for its dithering. (Green director Sophia Takal plays his girlfriend; Lena Dunham has a cameo as an incompetent sound engineer.) Karpovsky is recently engaged, though his relationship is starting to fall apart; his assistant, played by Tarik Lowe (who cowrote the movie with the director), has a new girlfriend to whom he's too desperately committed, even though she's not right for him.
Set in and on the office-space studios, apartments and streets of Manhattan (even though it often looks more like Kings County), the movie embodies the cliched contrasts between The City and its neighbor across the river; there's something instructive in comparing Characters to archetypal Brooklyn indies: it's less artsy, a little spiffier, more Hollywood. But Schecter doesn't let the film descend into standard-issue Tribeca romcom. There's a subtle subtext about how life is like filmmaking: how we succeed when we work together, how we move on from projects—or people—when they're done. But of course life is actually more complicated than art: it's not so easily rewritten; characters are not so easily spliced out of the stories of our lives. Such lessons may sound pat, but the well-acted Characters conveys them effectively with sincerity and intelligence.
Opens January 25