Combustible Celluloid
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With: Thomas Jane, Jeremy Piven, Rob Lowe, Christian McKay, Carla Gugino, Tom Bower, Arielle Kebbel, Zander Eckhouse, Abhi Sinha, Sasha Grey, Joe Reegan, August Emerson, Rebecca Creskoff, Melora Hardin
Written by: Glenn Porter
Directed by: Mark Pellington
MPAA Rating: R for pervasive drug use and language, some violence and sexual content
Running Time: 129
Date: 01/26/2011

I Melt with You (2012)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)


By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Director Mark Pellington (Arlington Road, The Mothman Prophecies, Henry Poole Is Here) creates a vivid bond between four realistic characters, and in the process coaxes four painfully revealing performances.

Four 40-something friends meet at a beach house for their annual reunion, and to celebrate one friend's birthday. Richard (Thomas Jane) is a former writer that is now a teacher; Jonathan (Rob Lowe) is a shady doctor that is probably addicted to drugs; Ron (Jeremy Piven) is a businessman trapped in a bad deal; and Tim (Christian McKay) blames himself for the death of his lover. The four men regress to college, binge on alcohol and drugs, and try to bury their pain, regret, and misery. Unfortunately, a suicide brings to light a forgotten pact that the men made 25 years earlier. Will this old promise come back to haunt them?

These actors really earned their paychecks here. And, as a part-time music video director, Pellington's movie has some great songs (by the Sex Pistols, the Clash, the Stone Roses, etc.) from the era in which the men might have first met.

But that's where the good stuff ends. Pellington's camera zooms in on the characters' bleary, ravaged faces, and makes sure that their long partying binge doesn't look even the least bit attractive. That's fine, but the actual result is instead sad, pathetic, anxious and depressing. And then, at the halfway point, things take a turn for the worse. If only Pellington could have found some kind of balance, offered some relief from time to time, then he might have had an intriguing study of middle-aged men in crisis instead of this grim, often ludicrous cautionary tale.

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