Awkwardness Reigns in Expired
Despite Expired's many flaws, give writer-director Cecilia Miniucchi points for gamely tackling an almost unworkable conceit in her romantic-comedy debut: the awkward courtship of two thoroughly incompatible people. Homely, withdrawn Claire (doe-eyed Samantha Morton) leads a dull life as a Santa Monica meter maid, until she attracts the attention of Jay (Jason Patric), a fellow parking official whose two most notable features are his bushy mustache and his raging, paranoid misanthropy. Miniucchi intentionally refuses to justify the unlikely spark between her characters, and consequently, Expired is a peculiar (though never dull) experiment that keeps its narrative momentum revving by continually asking: "What horrible thing can Jay do to Claire next?" Patric's performance is a less-mannered variation on his sexist swine from Your Friends & Neighbors, and he manages to make Jay's struggle to be both a pig and a worthy soulmate oddly honorable. But Morton has a harder time with the material's snide tone, and it's impossible to overlook Miniucchi's condescending attitude toward her supposedly lovable losers. Expired pretends to be a valentine to society's outcasts, but it's just one more indie comedy that mocks its characters while sucking up to its knowing audience, assuring all of us hip urbanites that the romantic insecurities of "weirdos" don't deserve our sympathy.
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