By Vanessa Martinez | Shadow and Act April 23, 2012 at 9:30AM
Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival this past weekend, Supporting Characters written by Daniel Schechter and Tarik Lowe and directed by Schechter, is described by the festival’s write up as a “masculine romantic comedy.” After having seen the film, I can understand how that statement fits the bill when it comes to this quirky-contemporary charmer.
Call it a “bromance” even, as they say. Characters, a film about making a film, or, as the old adage goes - art imitating life or life imitating art, follows a team of film editors Nick and Darryl, played by Alex Karpovsky and Tarik Lowe (co-writer), hired to work some magic on a dud of a film directed by an apathetic and neurotic director named Adrian (Kevin Corrigan), while dealing with their own personal and romantic lives.
Nick, an impressive and nuanced performance by Karpovsky, is in a seemingly stable relationship with his live-in fiancé Amy, played splendidly by Sophia Takal; a relationship that is well crafted in its complexity and realism. While working in the editing room, Nick gets a surprise visit from the film’s starlet Jamie (Arielle Kebbel), who wants to see some of the footage. Later, after an uncomfortably funny scene as Nick and Jamie partake in banter full of sexual innuendos while Jamie is being directed by Nick during a voiceover session, Nick develops a lustful crush for this film’s star. He has to decide whether to stray on Amy or remain faithful as he continues on his road towards marriage with her.
Meanwhile, Darryl (Lowe) has been dating pop dancer Liana, played by the lovely Melonie Diaz, but their on-and-off relationship is far from stable; we hear them argue on the phone in front of Nick and his fiancé Amy, who are amused by their bickering. You’ll soon start to wonder if she’s as invested in making this relationship work as he is.
Nick and Darryl confide in and attempt to support each other with their personal predicaments; their differences however, don’t allow them to see eye-to-eye many of the times, creating friction between them inside and out the editing room.
In one key scene, Darryl tells Nick about his intentions of proposing to Liana after four months. Nick resoundingly disapproves, and an argument ensues as Darryl brings up buried resentment, and, according to Nick, Darryl plays the race card. And, in a thoughtless, prejudiced remark, Nick tells Darryl something along the lines of, “don’t take it from me, ask one of your Black friends. Oh, wait they’ll probably tell you to go ahead, get married and have a bunch of babies.”
I appreciated choices like this, because the film doesn’t sugar coat or compromise when it comes to showcasing the friendship of two fellows, who are flawed and can be very unlikable. It seemed very plausible in a real-life situation.
The real test of their friendship however, comes when Nick is offered a new gig to work as an editor, but the budget doesn’t allow for Darryl to be his partner. Conflict keeps arising from then on as they focus on completing the film, while the uninvolved director lashes back at the crew for not keeping him up to date on all the film’s changes.
The film cleverly explores how team members, in this case, the filmmaking crew, must tolerate each other’s differences by opting to pick their fights and/or ultimately bite their tongues. They must find a way to make things functional and succeed, and they are willing to make that sacrifice because they love their job.
The core of the film though lies in Nick and Darryl’s friendship, which, in spite of their very distinct personalities, has endured and grown from their partnership in the editing room. Their characters ooze chemistry with ease; after all, Tarik Lowe, who co-wrote the film, told S&A -in an interview that should be up in the next day- that the script is mostly based on his real-life work partnership/relationship dynamics.
The rest of the cast pulls their weight to give this film an overall feel of authenticity. I only wish Darryl’s personal dilemma would have been developed more, especially since Darryl (Lowe) has a commanding screen presence and vulnerability, along with good comic timing. I also enjoyed his scenes with Liana (Diaz); I just wish there would have been more to their story. The film veers more towards Nick’s environment and his relationship with Amy.
Despite that, you will enjoy witnessing this duo’s connection, and even co-dependence to a degree, as they find a way to remain loyal to each other through life's highs and lows aside from their very different personalities, thanks to naturalistic and engaging performances. Also, the twists and turns of the film’s plot prevent the film from becoming predictable and ordinary, much like life itself.
Take a look at the trailer below and a clip compilation highlighting the film's cinematography by Richard Ulivella underneath it.