Mel Rodriguez III’s debut picture, In Stereo follows struggling New Yorkers Brenda (Beau Garrett) and David (Micah Hauptman), whose personal and professional lives take a serious downturn after they break up.
Though the film splits its channels between Brenda and David (stereo!) as they go about their separate lives, struggling actress Brenda is far more interesting. It’s a myth that characters must be likable, but David makes it difficult to care about him at all: He’s working on an art project involving taking pictures of people he’s provoked into hitting him, and after goading one of a pair of cosmo-drinking men at a bar to punch him by implying they’re queer, David captions the subsequent photo “The Time I Got Gay Bashed.” No. Just, no.
There are occasional bits of formal experimentation, particularly the use of split-screens (stereo!) and playing with the timeline, but I might have benefited from more — especially if the hairstylists had been a bit more experimental with the women’s hair, instead of giving them all the same long style that Molly Ringwald once called “boyfriend hair.”
In Stereo is not without its merits, but it doesn’t really get going until the last ten minutes, which play like the opening of a movie that would be much more interesting than the one that preceded them.
Written and directed by Mel Rodriguez III
Circus Road Films
Opens July 3, Cinema Village
Available on demand