The Telephone Game
by Caress Thirus
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“Two people who work very closely together and who are attracted to each other, and are playing a couple; playing people who are in love and who have been together for many years…there’s a trick that you play on your imagination when you’re acting, and sometimes…those things blend. The real life and the play. You can’t help it.”
How ironic it is that a play is called a play. If one were to look a little deeper into the work that goes into a stage production, that person would be astonished at the blood, sweat, and tears they found.
The Telephone Game tells the story of a theater in its attempt to put on a play called “The Invisible Ropes” in 1960s America. But when the talented but burdened director and lead actor falls in love with his co-star, tensions rise. The movie exposes the dangers posed to a production when relationships, be it romantic ones or family relationships, extend outside of the production.
The entire film is unconventional and fresh. From the dramatic opening scene and soundtrack to the emotional moments and unusual use of camera angles, nothing in this movie is dated or boring. The acting is brilliant. There’s almost a documentary feel to the movie, and the viewer becomes a part of the play-making experience from the get-go. The philosophical script is so real, partly because it was ad-libbed rather than pre-written. From the dance rehearsals to the fittings to the auditions to the facial expressions and emotions, every little detail of the play-making process is captured.
Though the characters are very different from one another, they are portrayed so that audiences everywhere can relate to them. In the words of the play’s director, Marco, “Everybody is a little bit of everybody.”
Wes Tank plays Marco in the film, and he gives an incredible and haunting performance. He’s a young playwright who is blessed with two burdens: that of talent and that of love. He comes to find that combining these burdens only becomes a third burden. He’s mysterious, and the type of guy who, if he committed a crime, his lawyer could plead insanity, only because his mind is so advanced that the average Joe couldn’t understand it.
The Telephone Game boasts a unique and realistic sense of humor. It is simple at times and complex at others, but all in all it balances out and works. The movie is so out of the box and all over the place, but in a good way because such is life. You never really know what to expect, and there’s no way to predict the ending.
The Telephone Game is a stirring, heart-wrenching tale that teaches viewers that happiness doesn’t necessarily mean perfection, and that sometimes you just have to pick one or the other.
Caress Thirus is a student at Roosevelt University and a film enthusiast.
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