Monologuist Josh Kornbluth doesn’t seem like a fuck-up, but his stage shows pivot on extended life failures presented as his innate character. Love & Taxes is based on his stage monologue about the consequences of failing to file his tax returns for a seven-year period; his protracted fiduciary penance coincides with meeting and falling in love with a woman named Sara (Sarah Overman).
The film, directed by his brother Jacob Kornbluth, intercuts the stage show with comic reenactments of his experiences dealing with lawyers, the IRS and his charming, anxious girlfriend. As a writer, Kornbluth is vivid, funny and skilled at conveying characters, qualities he actually matches in performance. His flair with his voice manifests in two tax attorneys; one is Bob, a kindly old corporate lawyer for whom Josh works as a legal secretary. Onstage, Josh celebrates Bob’s expressive deployment of corporate taxation language, which includes “reverse double-dummy maneuvers” and “collapsible corporation rulings.”
The second lawyer is Mo, a clipped, methodical personal tax attorney. She launches Josh on his voyage of bureaucratic redemption by psychoanalyzing him. Failure to file, she tells him, isn’t a tax problem — it’s a tax symptom. And sure enough, his earliest memory of taxes is his dad throwing away his 1040 form and taking Josh out for ice cream instead. As Josh digs out of his financial hole, he also confronts his father’s influence and his own similar irresponsible tendencies.
Unfortunately, Sara is the most underdeveloped of the film’s characters. Sweetly eccentric early in the film, she becomes flatly hectoring and unsympathetic during the third act. Overman is great, but Sara is unfinished business, the one missed opportunity in an otherwise smart memoir.
Love & Taxes
Directed by Jacob Kornbluth
Opens March 3, Landmark Sunshine
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 1, 2017