Two Girls And A Guy

1998, Movie, R, 92 mins


Built around a fearless performance by the protean Robert Downey Jr., this deliberately provocative story of deception and sexuality packs a punch that's undermined by the director's indulgence. Downey is all too well cast as Blake Allen, an egotistical actor whose one true love is his ailing mother, whom we never see. Instead, we meet the two women he's seduced with his magnanimous spirit and his "I'm a struggling artist who happens to have inherited the most spacious loft in Soho" shtick. Carla (Heather Graham) and Lou (Natasha Gregson Wagner) meet in front of Blake's building and discover that the perfect boyfriend they're both hoping to surprise as he returns from a trip is the same boyfriend, and shattered by Blake's brazen lies they decide to confront him. What follows is a peeling away of the onion of Blake's sorry soul. His desire to please makes him use his art, his songs, his dramatic gifts, his body and his tongue in an effort to end the misery of being despised for his duplicity. Carla and Lou's own imperfections are exposed in the light of this dark day of the soul, and writer-director James Toback finds a convenient moment of catharsis for the tortured Blake. The strength of the recriminations, ugly truths and fluidity of the characters' sexuality are ill-served by Toback's hands-off policy toward the actors: Downey in particular runs around like a kid in a sandbox, wildly throwing out ideas, some of which work and some of which most emphatically don't. Graham, by contrast, turns in a carefully modulated performance that makes you wish the movie were all about Carla instead of the smug Blake. leave a comment --Sandra Contreras

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