Middlebrow Sundance product is the scourge of American independent cinema today—those innocuously "arty," totally commercial, and barely-left-of-mainstream films that trick the masses into feeling smarter and edgier than deserved (see: Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, and dozens of titles aiming to be both). Jay DiPietro's modest directorial debut, Peter and Vandy, is at least impassioned, but if the film hadn't been adapted from his 2002 play about a strained romance chronicled out of temporal sequence, we'd dismiss it as a cut-rate (500) Days of Summer—itself a cut-rate example of the aforementioned fest genre. Temperamental and passive-aggressively inarticulate, downtown NYC twentysomethings Peter (Jason Ritter) and Vandy (Jess Weixler) confess their love, cruelly project their insecurities during inane fights over how to make a PB&J sandwich, meet for the first time, and on and on through the back-and-forth span of their relationship. Ritter and Weixler do share an easy-at-being-uneasy chemistry, mostly because his performance is downright distinguished compared to her blandness, but DiPietro's screenplay is emotionally myopic. His sharpest written exchanges—and there aren't many—get buried under his inexplicable need to embrace the non-linear conceit. Did we mention there's indie rock?
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