They say, “Those who can’t do teach.” That’s not to say, however, that Mr. Artemis (Ali Farahnakian) won’t try to do both. Frustrated that his acting career has yet to progress beyond the cheap local commercial stage — and even those gigs are as sporadic as they are humiliating — Artemis dreams of a juicy part in a local production of Moliere’s play, “The Misanthrope.” Depressed when he learns that he wasn’t cast — especially as he’s pinned his hopes on winning back his ex-girlfriend by impressing her with a plum role — his principal rubs salt in the wound by ordering him to direct his grade school’s play. Naturally, Artemis decides that he’ll lead his young charges in, what else, “The Misanthrope.”
Most of what makes this film unique and engaging is due to Farahnakian’s inspired performance. Here’s a guy wound ever-tighter; a charming, shambling train wreck of a man who’s in a race to find his niche in life before the wheels come off completely.
Less successful is director Allen Colombo’s overuse of the montage as a storytelling device. Once or twice is fine, but here we’re seemingly treated to one every ten minutes or so, bringing whatever momentum the film’s generated to a screeching halt. Similarly, the film’s lazy camera work, er, “stylistic photography” also takes the viewer out of the film. Scenes that often begin with, say, extreme close-ups of an out-of-focus shoulder before the camera pulls back into the establishing shot quickly becomes a tiresome and repetitious technique, especially when used in conjunction with the aforementioned montages.
In spite of these flaws, however, Colombo has crafted a largely enjoyable and entertaining film here with “The Misanthrope”; a truly oddball character study of an oddball guy that proves that it’s sometimes possible to do AND teach.