Resist that urge to turn it off early…

by Martin Hafer

Tobi (Patrick Stewart) is a dance professor at Julliard. Today he’s very nervous, however, as he’s expecting guests. Who they are, you don’t know but he wants everything to be just right and he fusses over the details. Once the couple arrive, you learn that the woman is supposedly working on a dissertation about dance and the husband is just along for the ride. This portion at Tobi’s favorite restaurant is VERY hard to take. Tobi is so superficial and flamboyant that he comes off as fake and annoying. I really was tempted to turn off the film…it was THAT bad.

Soon the scene changes to Tobi’s apartment. While the lady (Carla Gugino) asks Tobi a lot of questions about dance, her husband (Matthew Lillard) begins asking questions–which is strange because he’s just supposed to be along for the ride. What’s stranger is that his questions are very invasive and he begins asking Tobi about his sex life. What is this all about….as it soon becomes obvious that there is no dissertation and the couple have ulterior motives. What? See the film.

Written & Directed by
Stephen Belber
Patrick Stewart, Carla Gugino, Matthew Lillard
Release Date
14 January 2015
Martin’s Grade: A

I hated the first 20 minutes or so of the film and thought the writing and Stewart were just awful. But I stuck with it…and I am glad I did because through the course of the film, the bravado, the fakeness and the veneer begin to wear away and the movie becomes an interesting character study. In fact, it becomes a wonderful study of all three–and all three are marvelous. It also becomes quieter…more contemplative…and very emotionally charged–so much so that you might just want to have a few Kleenex handy. Rarely has a movie surprised me like this one did…and I am certainly glad I saw it. If you, too, would like to see it, the film is out this week on Netflix.

By the way, this is not a film for kids. There is a lot of talk about sexuality and it would probably bore younger viewers as well. But for someone who wants to see marvelous acting you cannot do much better than this.