RIFE 2014: “Geographically Desirable” reviewed

Posted by Michael Parsons on October 19, 2014 in , / 1 Comment

 

“Has anyone been following the French presidential election?” asks Nicole (Blair Bowers), who’s met with a blank stare from a table full of her friends.

That’s because Nicole lives in the world of news broadcasting. She’s obsessed with her job. She’s a workaholic who dedicates the wee hours of the night to a Washington, DC network affiliate, and she’s very good at what she does.

121489_galAs you might imagine, Nicole doesn’t have much time for a social life. Even an on-again-off-again boyfriend (Nic Detorie) works at the station, where her boss (a hilarious Rick Kain) promises a daytime position somewhere down the line. But for now, her days are spent passed out on the couch and dozing off on park benches — that is, when she’s not glued to her smart phone.

It doesn’t even seem like she’ll make it to her uncle’s funeral until her bereaved mother (Joy Nathan) manages to talk some sense into her. Even then, Nicole just appears to be going through the motions, until she inherits her uncle’s dog and house and meets Joe (Andrew Agner-Nichols), the owner of a local country store in the charming rural town.

And so goes “Geographically Desirable”, a light, witty movie that speaks to the importance of balancing one’s life. DC-based writer/director Mike Kravinsky (“The Nextnik”) seems to have found his stride with this quirky and relatable comedy/drama, which is like a more upbeat, less pretentious Noah Baumbach film. Blair Bowers is nearly perfect in her portrayal of a woman who’s so busy covering world affairs that her own life is passing her by, and while the character might look like a Sarah Jessica Parker cliché on paper, Bowers avoids coming across that way almost altogether on-screen.

Laughs are not scarce, particularly when the movie is emphasizing how absent-minded Nicole is outside of her work life: in one scene, Nicole’s bestie Abby (Felicia Gonzalez Brown) discovers a dustpan in the refrigerator when cleaning up around their apartment. We’ve all been there at some point in our lives, but Nicole seems to be on perpetual auto-pilot, blindly coasting into a future of loneliness and regret.

121466_galWill she find happiness in the unlikeliest of places? Agner-Nichols is appealing as the down-to-Earth restaurateur Joe, who becomes attracted to Nicole as her initial city girl snobbishness starts to wash off in the overwhelming goodwill of the small town. While the relationship that develops between them doesn’t exactly produce fireworks, we get the sense that romance is merely a byproduct of the connection that Nicole is making with herself. And her self-discovery does have its touching moments.

The film’s good intentions are not without their pitfalls, but “Geographically Desirable” has plenty to offer in between the expected lulls. The cast is strong, but the standout is a rather disarming performance from Josh Adams as a reticent artist named Tyler. His dialogue with Nicole leads to a big revelation regarding her perspective on things —  and it’s here where the film comes together as something much more thoughtful than your typical romantic comedy.

“Geographically Desirable” was so popular at DC’s Reel Independent Film Extravaganza that there will be an additional screening at 7:00 PM this Tuesday, October 21st at the West End Cinema. For folks in the NYC area, the film is also playing tonight at the NYC Independent Film Festival !

Tickets DC: westendcinema.com

Tickets NYC: nycindiefilmfest.com

Michael Parsons

Father. Realtor®. Movie nut. After pestering my parents for their commentary on “Star Wars” when I was four years old, my mind went into a creative frenzy. I’d imagined something entirely different than the actual film, which I didn’t end up seeing until its 1979 re-release at the Uptown Theater in Washington, DC. This was my formal introduction to the cinema.

During that long wait, which felt like an eternity to a child, my mind was being molded by more corrosive stuff like “Trilogy of Terror” and “Rosemary’s Baby”, most of which I’d conned various babysitters into letting me watch on television ( I convinced one poor lady that “Jaws” was actually “Moby Dick”).

The folks were pretty strict in that regard, so the less appropriate it was for a kid to watch, the more I was fascinated by it. Horror staples like “Halloween” and “Friday the 13th”, as well as lesser-known low-budget fare like “Madman”, “Sleepaway Camp” and “Pieces” all ended up sneaking their way into the VHS on a regular basis.

Since then, I’ve developed an obsession with the entire film industry. Even though I watch and review a wide breadth of films these days, my appreciation for the campy, poorly lit micro-budgeters still lends itself to my evolving perspective on movies just as much as the summer blockbusters and Oscar contenders. As I recall my trips to the movie theater, I realize that this stuff is about much more than just a fleeting piece of entertainment.

A couple years ago, I was finally given the opportunity to lend my opinion on films to a publication, The Rogers Revue, with a subsequent run at Reel Film News. It's been both a privilege and a gateway to what we’re doing now. Most of my experience has come from interviewing independent filmmakers, who consistently promote innovation. The filmmaking process is grueling and relatively unforgiving.

Fellow film enthusiast Eddie Pasa and I have created DC Filmdom as a medium for film reviews, discussion, and (inevitably) some debate. And so, the creative frenzy continues.

(Michael is a member of the Washington, DC Area Film Critics Association).

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