Moviegoers around the world have waited patiently for such talented duos to embrace the silver screen; Redford and Newman in “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” Pacino and De Niro in “Heat,” and finally Wil Wheaton and Corin Nemec in “Foreign Correspondents.” Yes, two of TV’s teen heartthrobs of the 80’s are teaming up for the first time on the silver screen… and this time it’s personal! Well, not really. For now, we’ll have to accept a drifting drama of lonely love with a little help from the U.S. Postal Service.
The first of two “semi-connecting” stories revolves around Melody (Melanie Lynskey), a lonely receptionist receiving romantic postcards meant for the previous tenant. She quickly clings to these letters of desperation and gets mentally involved with the old tenant’s heart shattering past. Throw in an overly friendly neighbor (Wil Wheaton) who has a fancy for the young lady and let the drama juices flow. But wait, there’s more! Part II tells the tale of an Englishman (Corin Nemec) who visits a pen pal/refugee from Sarajevo living with an American family. What he thought was a free ticket to Northern California becomes a lure into marrying the pen pal so she can stay in the States. Will any of these loves ignite? How will these separate stories cosmically connect? Will Wil and Corin ever appear in the same scene together?
All joking aside, “Foreign Correspondents” is slightly entertaining but would have been better as two shorts than a feature attempting to intertwine two different stories. Dramas like this are hard to pull off. The audience has to be interested enough to follow all of its leads until their stories connect at the films conclusion. Features of this nature (“Pulp Fiction”, “Short Cuts”) work because each character’s situation is threaded into another character’s outcome. In “Foreign Correspondents,” the two stories have no solid relationship but the involvement of canceled postage. Director Mark Tapio Kines makes an honest attempt on how one can touch another from a distance, but the payoff tends to be more of a toss up than something with a little more substance.
Where “Foreign Correspondents” shines is in its cast. Melanie Lynskey’s Melody is perfect as the quiet soul next door. You share her sympathy through the entire piece; from the readings of love lost, to her loneliness that’s slightly pushing her away from reality. She’s definitely a gifted actress and it’s only time before Hollywood gives her a lead role that she can really sink her teeth into.
As for Wil and Corin, they work with what they have to create some dimension in this semi-touching but wandering script. Wheaton’s Jonas, the ever- loving neighbor, has enough sappiness to make him boarder-line creepy and Nemec takes the Englishman in and out of his cloud of confusion with a sympathetic flair.
“Foreign Correspondents” is really two semi-likable shorts for the price of one. As for the acting duo, I guess we’ll have to wait for Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker to bow out of doing another “Rush Hour” so Wil and Corin can take their place. May we all pray for that faithful day.