Burning Annie, the anxiously auspicious debut of director Van Flesher and writer Zack Ordynans, would be far too clever for its own good were the crisis of cleverness not its subject. Set in the world of status-quo college dudes and the dudettes who love them (and leave them and let them be lonely), it's a pomo romcom for iPodpeople, a bittersweet riff on the displacement of feeling through sitcom sarcasm and indie-flick whimsy. As au courant as a Bujalski film yet oddly anachronistic in its reference points, the movie tracks Max (Gary Lundy), a neurotic ersatz nebbish, as a he grapples with the emotional fallout of his Annie Hall fixation. Enter his very own Diane Keaton in the shape of Julie (Sara Downing), whose vibrant autonomy dismantles our hero's snarky solipsism and puts the woody in his Woody. Their immensely appealing performances are buffered by an array of roommates, girlfriends, and romantic rivals, each enacting their own lovesick mini- dramas. There's too much going on in Burning Annie but one thing goes remarkably right: Ordynans's exceptionally canny script nails how thoroughly pop culture has colonized our sentiments, and the necessity of those little emotional revolutions required to overthrow its reign.
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