Movies about making movies rarely fail, as these type of movies have a kind of self-reflective and self-deprecating satire that can’t really be duplicated by other types of art (there aren’t many songs about recording a song, nor are there many paintings about painting). Supporting Characters, which was co-written and directed by Daniel Schechter (Goodbye Baby) stars Alex Karpovsky and Tarik Lowe (who also co-wrote the screenplay) as Nick and Darryl, two close friends who work as a film editing team. The two receive their latest assignment, which is just the beginning of the pair’s troubles in their personal lives and professional relationship.
The movie they are assigned to edit is a dog, pun intended — a rom-com whose plot sounds a lot like Marley & Me. Like most editors working on bad movies, Nick and Darryl are expected to turn the footage into something resembling an entertaining movie. Mike (Mike Landry), the man who runs the editing company, says perhaps the truest thing about editors when its pointed out that the movie is full of terrible acting. “That’s why we have these editors,” he says, “to fix the bad acting.” The only redeeming quality of the film is that they get to work with its star, Jamie (Arielle Kebbel), although the young beauty and the celebrity world she represents becomes increasingly dangerously attractive to Nick as his relationship with his fiance Amy (Sophia Takal) crumbles. Darryl’s relationship with his girlfriend, Liana (Melonie Diaz) isn’t so rosy, either. So Supporting Characters is a movie about the two editors trying to construct something while their personal lives are deconstructing.
Not making the process any easier is Adrian (Kevin Corrigan, a familiar face but probably best known for The Departed), the film’s director who seems to think his movie is an artistic accomplishment rather than a date night popcorn movie. Nick and Darryl’s interactions with him are many of the film’s highlights, particularly one scene that takes on the scenario of a hostage negotiation. Corrigan is spot-on as that “artist” you know who thinks his or her work is far more meaningful than it actually is.
There’s an obvious great rapport between Karpovsky and Lowe, and the first forty-five minutes of the film are lighthearted and jocular despite obvious relationship problems gaining steam for both lead characters. This tone makes the film really enjoyable for the most part. Then a lot happens in the film’s final twenty minutes, and not all of it connects. When the drama eventually overtakes the comedy the film is less enjoyable yet more compelling, if that makes sense. In other words, the movie hits harder, but the joy from the earlier scenes is gone and profoundly missed. That seems to have been Schechter’s intention, and it’s worth noting that he’s accomplished the difficult task of pulling off the total tonal shift, even if it feels like something is missing.
That “missing” feeling results from a key plot point centered on a character that is neither seen nor mentioned until very late in the narrative, as the character is supposed to be a deeply-hidden secret. But putting such a moment in a movie out of left field lacks the true emotional punch it is supposed to arrive with. While it wasn’t necessary to meet this character, it seems like a cheap trick to just be tossed in the story like a last-minute attempt at a twist to transition between the earlier fun scenes and the later dramatic ones. When something so important to the plot is shoved in like that it suggests deeper problems with the movie’s story.
So while the ending doesn’t make up for that surprising shift, it does reaffirm the essentials of the two characters as they go forth to work on their next project. It’s fascinating to witness two men who achieve significant professional success while struggling from issues in their private lives. But since this is a movie about the close friendship between two co-workers, the intertwining of their professional and private lives with their changing friendship is compelling.
Rating: Aside from the problems with the film’s story in the last twenty minutes, everyone involved in this makes it a winner (7.5/10).
Tribeca Film Festival Screening Times
Sunday, April 22 6:00PM Clearview Cinemas Chelsea 7
Friday, April 27 10:00PM AMC Loews Village 7 – 2