They say you should write what you know. That is what writer-actors Michael Godere and Ivan Martin did with Loitering with Intent, which made its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival last week. Having written a film with roles tailor-made for themselves, and their more famous real-life actor friends, Godere and Martin churn out a humorous and honest, if somewhat zany, story about love, family, friendship and whether or not making your mark on the world is a worthwhile a pursuit in the grand scheme of things.
Dominic (Michael Godere) and Raphael (Ivan Martin) are actors first, bartenders second, and writers when they suddenly need to be. Each has had almost breakthrough acting roles, but neither of their careers has taken off. When a producer friend mentions that her boss is looking for a low-budget feature to produce, Dom and Raphael pitch to her a screenplay they say they’ve been working on. Except no such screenplay exists. With only ten days to write a film, the pair go to Dom’s sister’s upstate home to focus, but the tumult created by the group of characters that convene there trumps their creative inspiration.
Among those characters are Dom’s free-spirited sister Gigi (Marisa Tomei), her much-younger (but equally hippy) friend Ava (Isabelle McNally), Gigi’s slightly unhinged ex-boyfriend (Sam Rockwell) and his soon-to-be reality TV star brother (Brian Geraghty ). Godere and Martin are not shy about the fact that the script is so closely based on their lives, their relationship and their circle of friends. And, why should they be? Even though the film is centered on two actors trying to “make it”, Loitering with Intent is a slice-of-life comedy that feels relevant and accurate.
The intimacy of the cast in real life also lends itself tremendously to the on-screen dynamic, which is also helped by the writers being able to cater to the actors’ strengths. Marisa Tomei has proven her range time and again throughout her great career, but when she gets a role in which she can display her own personal blend of eccentricity and sincerity (like with Crazy, Stupid, Love or Cyrus) she can really be such a pleasure to watch.
In a Q&A session in Tribeca last week Sam Rockwell mentioned what some call his penchant for overacting, and that he enjoyed playing a character that was “simmering,” as opposed to “exploding.” Well, I happen to his Rockwellian explosions, but he’s equally good at almost exploding and then taking it down a notch. Brian Geraghty is hilarious as the throwback to the early 90’s sun-loving surfer and Ivan Martin (a fusion of Rainn Wilson and Michael Sheen) is also great.
With distribution still in question Loitering with Intent might find itself like its protagonists —never really getting a shot, while dim-witted surfers are elevated to super-stardom through reality TV. But the film also points out that talent is talent, recognized or not.