Cast: Blair Bowers, Felicia Brown, Andrew Agner- Nichols, Dominic Detorie, Sarah Collier, Josh Adams
The word “quirky” is a dangerous word when describing a movie. It can be a good thing – a very good thing if the movie is a bit off the beaten path and reviewers often don’t know how else to describe it – or it can be a warning for trendy and trite (like Zoe Deschanel). Geographically Desireable, in case you couldn’t tell already by the title, is most definitely the latter. There’s not much of this movie that’s original or really even interesting – in fact, some of the superfluous travel montages are downright boring and exasperating – and the thin plot is loosely held together by stilted acting and bad dialogue. I am almost convinced that some of the actors were reading stage directions as lines. Overall, Geographically Desirable aims to be one of those “quirky” indie comedies where the lead character learns an important life lesson, or finds herself, or whatever, by interacting with a ragtag group of new friends. Unfortunately, it just misses the mark in all the places that matter, and ends up feeling like a budget genre piece.
Geographically Desireable, written and directed by Mike Kravinsky, is about an overworked night shift TV producer named Nicole (Blair Bowers). She has an on again/off again boyfriend named Kevin (Nic Detorie), an arrogant and slimy day shift producer who clearly cares nothing about their relationship and uses Nicole’s schedule as an excuse to stay unattached. When Nicole’s uncle dies, she finds herself in the small, artsy, quirky town of Floyd, Virginia for the funereal and discovers that her uncle has left her his dog and his house. Nicole must juggle work and her odd sleeping schedule with the demands of selling her uncle’s house. At first she is put off by small town life, but when she meets and falls for Joe (Andrew Agner-Nichols), the local coffee shop owner, she begins to wonder if she really knows what she wants after all.
Kravinsky clearly wants to be trendy, sticking a bunch of hipsters in a perfect and funky small town, throwing the unsuspecting city girl into the mix to learn that there’s more out there than a high stress job (which she loves) and personal satisfaction. You know, like hipster comic book artists and coffee shops and jamborees and smoking weed in bed and having a dog even though your lifestyle doesn’t support having one. Despite all that, there is nothing truly distinctive about this movie, from the writing right down to the direction. The forced premise is one thing, but then there’s Nicole. I might be able to accept the pointless story and the unfortunate editing if I cared one shred for Nicole, her life choices, or her personal struggle – but I don’t. There really isn’t anything that makes her stand out as a character I should root for or with whom I should connect. The fact that I’m not made to care about anyone in the movie makes the story doubly pointless. I will say this, though – there was a moment of hope early on when Nicole is out to dinner with her friends, who are all talking about the men in their lives (as if nothing else matters), when Nicole interjects, “Have any of you been following the French election?” They haven’t, but I appreciated that Nicole is a woman who has other things on her mind other than the only thing that apparently gives a woman purpose. That will not last, however.
The script – while cliched, predictable, and unengaging – may have done better in the hands of better actors. As it is, the film is populated by performers who seem merely to recite lines while emoting. Rather than feeling like real people in real life situations, they feel more like simple caricatures or robots reciting code. The acting feels artificial and reminds you with every line and action that you are watching actors who are reading lines they’ve been given. The only convincing performance Blair Bowers gives during the movie is when she sleeps – and as for her trouble staying awake, I can completely sympathize. To be fair, Bowers is no exception in this cast. Joy Nathan is especially grating as Nicole’s sickly sweet, guilt tripping mom. Her simplistic performance reminds me of Charlie Day’s mom (Lynne Marie Stewart) in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, except without the multi-layered joke writing that makes her performance so funny, and without any convincing personal interest to warrant her affected emotions.
That being said, I won’t discount Kravinsky just yet. There might be a lot about Geographically Desirable that is amateurish and unoriginal, but the idea for the film itself isn’t bad and the filmmaking not unsalvageable. A little practice goes a long way, and you can’t practice filmmaking unless you at least try to make films. I will suggest, however, that traveling by map might be preferable to the unbearable driving montages. Just a thought.by