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Monday, February 13, 2017

'Somewhere in the Middle' DVD: Manhattan Marriage Melodrama

New York-based foreign film distributor Film Movement brings it home to celebrate Valentine's Day regarding the February 14, 2017 DVD release of the 2015 romdram "Somewhere in the Middle." This film centers around the inter-related romantic drama and trauma of four 30-something Gotham yuppies.

Movement awesomely does the homework for slacker reviewers everywhere by providing comprehensive information regarding "Middle" on the DVD back cover. This includes scratching the surface of the extraordinary festival love, which include the Best Actor award at the Boston International Film Festival and the Grand Prize at the San Antonio International Film Festival, for "Middle."

The DVD back cover also provides a great "25-words-or-less" description of "Middle." This synopsis that "developed through a year-long improvisational process and alternating between three different perspectives, Somewhere in the Middle centers on a once-happy married couple whose marriage spirals into a series of emotionally messy affairs."

The one thing that Movement does not address is that writer/director Lanre Olabsi channels Woody Allen regarding depicting personal relationships in modern-day Manhattan. This especially comes through regarding a board game obsessed loser who others speculate is a chronic masturbator.

The following YouTube clip of the "Middle" trailer provides a good visual representation of that of which Movement speaks. It further shows how "Middle" warrants inclusion in the spectacular Movement catalog.

The action commences with new patient/graphic designer Sofia with serious relationship issues meeting textbook manchild Kofi in the reception area/living room of psychiatrist Nelson Spencer. This boy meets girl encounter leads to Sofia giving Kofi her digits.

Meanwhile, Kofi spouse/business owner Billie, who regularly hires Sofia, increasingly friendly with freelance graphic designer/Sofia lookalike Alex. The "its complicated" aspects of all this include that Sofia does not even know that Kofi is married, and Kofi does not know that Billie gives Sofia work.

The current turbulent state of the central marriage provides the backdrop for all this. Billie is losing her patience with Kofi. His bursting in and tremendously embarrassing her while she is entertaining employees at their home is the straw that pushes her into the home (and bed?) of Alex. Meanwhile, Sofia continues her largely one-sided pursuit of Kofi. One universal truth regarding all this is that one of the largest obstacles to true love is having the object of your affection share the same feelings as you at the same time that you experience them.

The clumsy attempts by Billie at seducing seemingly straight Alex are the best moments in "Middle." These start with a near kiss, move on to a scene in which it seems certain that Billie will casually observe that she and her hostess Alex can share the one bed in the home of the latter, and culminates in an encounter that makes the audience wonder if gainful employment is motivating Alex more than romantic feelings toward Billie.

Subsequent events put Sofia somewhere in the middle regarding all this. The behavior pattern that has her seeking therapy leads to becoming involved with Kofi; the relationship between Dr. Spencer and Kofi leads to the former dropping Sofia as a patient on learning of her dating the latter, and trouble in "paradise" regarding the Billie/Alex relationship prompts an oblivious Billie to direct her pathetically poor lesbian seduction skills toward Sofia. Confused? You won't be after watching "Middle."

Olabsi adds a nice artistic touch by putting many of the above encounters (and others) in perspective by showing them from the viewpoints of different characters. The most prominent example of this is a scene well into the film that depicts the dynamic between Kofi and Spencer in the period immediately before Sofia arrives at the office of Spencer in the opening moments of "Middle."

Further, each cast member plays his or her part well. Billie portrayor Cassandra Freeman deserves special notice for awesomely showing Billie as someone with multiple issues and disregard for proper business practices when doing so furthers her objective.

Anyone with questions or comments regarding "Middle" is encouraged to email me; you also can connect on Twitter via @tvddguy.