Film Review: Ex-Girlfriends

This debut feature by a would-be <i>auteur </i>who needs to get a day job <i>now </i>is about as interesting as a just-unwrapped loaf of Wonder Bread.

Clichés abound in writer-director Alexander Poe’s rookie effort, Ex-Girlfriends. Casting himself in the lead as Graham, a Manhattan short story writer, Poe attempts to create a delightful romantic roundelay involving three former female partners. Samantha (Liz Holtan) has just broken up with him, while Laura (Kristen Connolly) pops up at a party. There, Graham discovers that her boyfriend Tom (Noah Bean) may be dallying with yet another ex of his, Kate (Jennifer Carpenter), who is also his BFF. Graham tries to take advantage of the situation by pretending to sympathize with Laura in the hopes of getting back together with her. He enlists Kate’s help on a Hamptons mission to break up Laura and Tom.

Got all that? Do you even care? Imagine actually watching this and trying to feel some sort of involvement with these uniformly bland, all-white characters. There’s not a single line or situation here that remotely smacks of originality, wit or incisiveness, with the infuriating add-on that the beyond-callow Poe seems to actually believe he is reinventing the rom-com genre. One wonders if he has even ever watched one, and why his own eyes didn’t glaze over with “been there, seen that” boredom at what he was tapping out on his keyboard. Or maybe he’s just seen too many.

Hokey interior monologues abound, and expositional scenes set in Graham’s Columbia University creative-writing class only further alienate you. As an actor, Poe is a disaster, stiffly amateurish and lacking in any discernible charisma. Carpenter emerges as the one somewhat forceful character, bringing a similar sort of edge to the role that she displays on TV’s “Dexter.” But, she, like all the other actors, is effectively defeated by the basic who-gives-a-rat’s-ass banality of the material. Such was the indifference engendered by this film at an opening-night Tribeca “gala” that, even fueled by a surfeit of fancy cocktails and filled with expectant bonhomie as the audience was, you could actually hear crickets in the theatre during its unspooling.