Coming up on his 40s, Tony (Gregory Blanche) finds himself concerned with his biological clock and fearful that he’ll be too old to be a father. His track record with women is spotty at best, however, as he can’t seem to find any he’d like to procreate with. His roommate and best friend, Dale (Brian Lally), is supportive, but also extremely critical of Tony’s choice in women. When Dale and Tony aren’t dealing with the odd static between them, Dale is caring for a blind man named Bert (Edwardo Keaton), who is just as quick to argue with Dale as Tony is.
Dynamics change, however, when Tony starts up a relationship with his co-worker and carpool partner, Brandy (Megan Gabel). As the relationship progresses, the reasons for Dale’s almost constant attitude become more clear, and the true nature of Tony’s quest for a mate becomes known. Suddenly, nothing is as it seemed.
Hunting for Women could’ve easily been re-titled “Arguments, Buildings and Close-Ups,” and it might’ve been more applicable. The film seems to be made up of about 80-85% close-ups or extreme close-ups, with exterior establishing shots thrown in for good measure. Not that the film never gives a medium or wide shot, but they’re pretty scarce. I could map the cast’s facial pores, blemishes and hair better than I could sketch a full body shot, there’s so little reference.
In your face (or, in the cast’s faces) visual aesthetic aside, the film also has a very back-and-forth, almost Gilmore Girls-style rhythm to its dialogue that takes some getting used to. Not quite as rapid-fire and speedy, but the type of cadence and rhythm where the characters are responding directly at the end of their conversational partner’s last word, almost like they knew exactly what was going to be said, and already had a reply ready. Which, yes, as an actor in a scripted film, they do know what is being said and what to say next, but as an actor delivering a performance, it feels unnatural and takes some getting used to. Sometimes it can work, but it doesn’t always and, in Hunting for Women, it is more off-putting than not.
Still, if you’ve got a great story, or great performances, the uncomfortable or unnatural visual and dialogue-based idiosyncrasies can be more easily tolerated, if not altogether accepted and ignored. Unfortunately, though, that’s not the case. For most of the running time, save perhaps the final 15-20 minutes, little happens. There’s a conflict between Tony and Dale that isn’t clear, Dale and Bert good-naturedly bicker about life and religion and Tony and Brandy pursue a relationship. When we do get our explanations for why Dale is so pissy all the time, and where the story is going, it almost redeems the narrative.
I say “almost” because the film then packs one more big narrative twist which feels like one move too far, like the film just didn’t know how to reconcile all the characters it had set up without forcing something truly out there into the drama, making it a different type of film altogether. It’s weird to see a film, in one minute, suddenly give true drama and purpose to everything that came before it, elevating what previously felt like nothing, only to, a few minutes later, make a move that eliminates all it had just established. Again, one move too far (for me, at least).
Overall, I think there’s an interesting nugget of an idea in this film, but I also feel like it treads water for most of its running time, establishing and re-establishing routines that it doesn’t entirely pay off in the end. And where it does pay off, it then goes too far and undercuts the power of its own narrative, changing the film entirely. In the end, it just seems like a muddled mess that we see with a visual perspective that is far too close for comfort.
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