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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Movie Review - Alex of Venice

Alex of Venice (2015)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Don Johnson, Derek Luke, Katie Nehra, Chris Messina, Skylar Gaertner, Reg E. Cathey, and Timm Sharp
Directed by Chris Messina
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***

There's a simplicity to Alex of Venice, the directing debut of actor Chris Messina, that adds charm to the titular character's (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) newfound struggles following the leaving of her husband (Messina), the possible Alzheimer's diagnosis for her father (Don Johnson), and the arrival of her sister (Katie Nehra) who comes to the titular California town to look after Alex's son Dakota (Skylar Gaertner) while Alex works on an important environmental law case.  While that charming simplicity makes Alex of Venice innately watchable, it also doesn't provide much of a backdrop for what should be a slice of life story that feels as if it's trying too hard to cram too many "big" life moments into its short running time.

Winstead is captivating as the beleaguered mother who has spent so much time dealing with work that she's abandoned her family.  Her character feels grounded in reality as do most of the inhabitants of the film including Don Johnson's understated portrayal of an actor coming to grips with the onset of memory loss.  However, the flick -- the first screenplay for two of three credited screenwriters -- feels too kitchen sink-y to really resonate.  Divorce and abandonment and environmental protests and medical issues and even playwright Anton Chekov feel as if the writers just didn't know where to draw the line when it came to editing.  The Chekov inclusion, in particular, feels much too "final college thesis" rather than theatrical film to be anything other than laughable.

Admittedly, I'm making Alex of Venice sound worse than it is.  It's a watchable indie drama with decent performances that unfortunately is hampered by a script that doesn't do its cast any favors.  While it wouldn't necessarily be a bad watch, there are better things to stream on Netflix.

The RyMickey Rating:  C

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