SXSW Film Fest, Day 8: James Franco in "Maladies," Adam Brody in "Some Girl(s)," & "The Act of Killing"

Some Girl(s)

Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Stars: Adam Brody, Kristen Bell, Zoe Kazan, Mía Maestro, Jennifer Morrison, Emily Watson
Running time: 89 minutes
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Score: 5/10

Actors love playing characters written by renown playwright Neil LaBute, and it's easy to see why. Fascinated by sexual politics, LaBute draws characters of both sexes that philosophize about love, connection, and trust, and, sometimes, exhibit aloof misogyny. His latest screenplay, Some Girl(s) (based on his own play of the same name), brings LaBute back to his In the Company of Men side after years in Hollywood spent trying to stretch his storytelling range with disastrous results (see: the Nicolas Cage-starring The Wicker Man remake).

True to form, Some Girl(s) is a thespian's dream production, taking place in six hotel rooms with only two characters per scene. The constant is Adam Brody, whose nicely controlled performance as the unnamed and self-centered protagonist, a former heartbreaker who's hoping to right some of his past romantic wrongs before getting married to his new squeeze. Flying around the country, he arranges hotel meetings with six of his most memorable exes, each run-in more intense and revealing than the last.

The problem with a film like Some Girl(s), however, is that it's emotional center is hollow. Unaware that he's a hurtful asshole, Brody's character doesn't grow from any of the experiences, whether it's with the Boston professor (Emily Watson) with whom he had an affair, his high school friend's kid sister (Zoe Kazan) who "became a woman" through kissing him as an 11-year-old, or the best one who got away (Kristen Bell).

The stakes remain at a low level throughout Some Girl(s) since, despite Brody's tight acting, the guy's a real douche. All of his old flings know it, the audience knows it, but he doesn't, and LaBute's script keeps viewers looking for something more than just a performers' showcase. But there's nothing there.

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