CATEGORIES Drama, Sundance, Theatrical Reviews, Remakes and Sequels, Reviews, Sundance Film Festival, Cinematical
If you're a big fan of Stanley Tucci and Patricia Clarkson, then I have some potentially good news: the actors' latest film consists of little more than the two of them ... sitting in a bar ... talking ... for about 80 minutes. And since these are a pair of exceedingly fine actors, the experience of Blind Date is not what you'd call unpleasant -- but it sure isn't all that exciting.
Based on the 1996 Theo Van Gogh film of the same name, Blind Date is about an estranged married couple who, despite clearly loving one another, have all sorts of painful problems to work through. To that end, the couple stage a series of "blind dates" at the husband's seedy lounge -- most of which don't go off all that well. Toss in a clueless bartender who pops up every once in a while, and that's the long and short of Blind Date -- two great actors trying to breathe some life into a premise that begins as simplistically "symbolic," and gets progressively less subtle as the film moves forward.
It seems that the screenplay (adapted from Van Gogh's film by Tucci and David Schechter) is simply no match for the actors' skills. Revelations that should come off as shocking are lessened simply because the actors are too instinctual for such a basic concept. By the time we start to glean some information about the couple's mysterious daughter, we don't even need the words -- Clarkson's face tells the whole story long before the dialog catches up with the actress. As far as Mr. Tucci goes, he seems more than capable to play this world-weary magician, but his character is frequently unlikeable and clearly not all attuned to his wife's feelings.
Together the duo deliver all sorts of "hidden message" conversations, and we're just along to pick up the clues and perhaps root for some catharsis -- but the characters are barely introduced before we're plunked right into their angst-fest. It's sort of an off-putting approach, which leaves little to enjoy besides the skills of the two lead performers.
Tucci, a gifted director to be sure (his Big Night is an absolute treat), sets the whole affair in a very gamy night-club setting, and while the constant close-ups of the actor's overflowing ashtrays does set an appropriate scene -- the place starts to feel a little claustrophobic after only about 20 minutes. One must assume that was the director's intention, but it sure doesn't make for an actively appealing place to visit.