XX/XY (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

XX/XY is caught in the inevitable Indy dilemma. Indy filmmakers like to think that the difference between their films and Hollywood formula pictures is that the Indy people can reach in and try to find the truth about characters and situations. That is all well and good, and they should do this. But what does the filmmaker do when the characters are selfish, immature, uninteresting, shallow and whiny? You see the problem? If you want to make a truthful movie about real people that you really wouldn't want to hang around with, it is going to result in the audience spending two hours with people they really don't like. That can be very effective filmmaking, but it surely isn't the road to commercial success.

That's exactly the situation with this film. The characters feel authentic. They fail to develop over the years, but that is also authentic, since so many of us do that in real life. The dialogue is authentic as well. The problem is that these are really not characters you would want to spend any time with. It's a genuine movie, but it has an entertainment value of about zero, and I can't imagine why anyone would want to see it. 

NUDITY REPORT

  • Kathleen Robertson shows her butt, but the three-way sex is shot to hide her breasts.
  • Maya Stange shows her breasts several times.
The essence:

At a campus mixer, a predatory male asks a woman to go to bed with him almost as soon as he meets her. She not only agrees, but asks that her roommate be allowed to join in. The guy figures he's in hog heaven, but when they all start doing the deed, it gets really uncomfortable. This uneasiness sets the stage for the interaction that will mark their relationships through college and then, in the second half of the film, about ten years later as they hook up again after years of separation.

DVD info from Amazon

  • Widescreen anamorphic and full screen versions

Hollywood films may tend toward being phony, but the rule of thumb in commercial filmmaking is that you can't ever sacrifice entertainment value for honesty, because entertainment fills the seats in the theaters, allowing filmmakers to make a profit, thus allowing them to make more films. This, on the other hand, is an honest film which will get some good reviews but fill no seats at all, thus forcing the filmmaker to go scratching around for enough money to make his next film. It played at Sundance. It will make a small arthouse run, then go to video.

The lead character in this film, Coles, ends up in advertising. He first made a stab at filmmaking, during which he made "art-house movies no one will ever see", crude no-budget films on digital video. Like this one.

TUNA's THOUGHTS

xx/xy (2003) is a story of three college students who start their relationship with a mnage trois. None of them felt it went that well, but all also enjoyed it. The three become inseparable, but two of them (Mark Ruffalo and Maya Stange) become an item, and live together. Stange is getting serious, but Ruffalo is the sort of man that is never faithful. His infidelity ruins the relationship.

Cut to 10 years into the future, and a chance meeting reunites them. Seems nobody has learned anything in the last 10 years.

What I saw was a drama where none of the characters grew or learned anything, and so were the same at the end as they were at the beginning. In other words, they all three could have just skipped the ten years. Not only didn't the characters grow, but they were not very likable people. I can't help but think that I could have skipped the 10 years as well, and not missed anything.

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: no consensus. It received every score except 4/4. Roger Ebert said 3.5/4 and Lisa Schwarzbaum of EW liked it a lot, but the NY Post said 1/4

The People Vote ...

  • It is still in theaters, as I write this. After two months, it has attracted little notice, has never reached as many as 15 theaters nationwide, and has grossed less than $100,000. In the week of May 18, for example, it grossed about a thousand dollars per screen - assuming three showings per day, and a ticket price of eight bucks -  that's six people per screening.

 

The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C- (both reviewers). It is trapped in the inevitable arthouse dilemma of how to portray immature, uninteresting, unlovable characters truthfully. It sticks with truth, which is theoretically a good thing, but it just isn't very involving, and the characters are the kind of people you'd cross the street to avoid.

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