Workshopped to Death 

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The Dish and the Spoon
Directed by Alison Bagnall

The light is beautiful, the backgrounds artfully softened, and the actors charming, but The Dish and the Spoon starts to flatline just a few minutes in.

We start out in a car with Rose (Greta Gerwig), sniffling her way through the Lincoln Tunnel in a winter coat and pjs. Greta makes Rose easy to relate to as she rolls past seedy strip malls, scarfing down doughnuts and beer. Then she picks up a soulful teenager (Olly Alexander) and her story quickly devolves into a series of scenes that feel like acting exercises.

The kid (Rose is the only character who gets a name) may look like Bob Dylan circa Blonde on Blonde, but he acts like the ultimate emo. Playing witness to Rose's pain while she heads to the shore in pursuit of the woman who slept with her husband, he looks gorgeous, creates a giant sand portrait of Rose, and leads a singalong when she ditches him in a bar, all the while gazing at Rose with adoring, wise-beyond-his-years eyes. He's essentially playing the supportive girlfriend, a role reversal the film highlights in neon when Rose dresses them both in drag and takes him on a pretend date, playing predatory older man to his nervous young girl.

After zigzagging a while between manic and catatonic, Rose announces a new plan: "It's just you and me." And pop goes the meta as the two start to act like a couple of actors acting like a couple. There's a lot of lying around in front of fires, staring moodily into mirrors, and him gazing tenderly at her while she sleeps, or pretends to, along with one or two too many pinky-orange sunsets and lingering shots of birds taking flight.

Like the precious title, which we're left to figure out if we care enough to bother, The Dish and the Spoon feels like a nice little idea that's been workshopped to death.

Opens February 10 at the reRun Gastropub Theater

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