Romeo's Distress

James (Anthony Malchar) has a few more problems than your average nerdy 20-something. He never knew his parents, having been raised by his now largely helpless grandmother (Renee), and he doesn't have any friends. Photography is a bit of an obsession with him, including photographing graveyards. He often gets beaten up by Bobby (Adam Stordy). Of course he's also madly in love with a pretty girl named Jane (Kimberely A Peterson), which isn't a surprise for any 20-something, though the violent opposition from her father, Dale (Jeff Solomon), is a little unusual.

But while James seems to be muddling through his life as best he can, just another harmless, hapless geek, he also has some alarming secrets. Does Bobby have a reason for his harassment, beyond just being a bully? Maybe Dale is right to object so strongly to James hanging around his daughter. After all, James is seeing a psychiatrist (Alex Echevarria), and certainly James has taken a frightening number of pictures of Jane -- who almost certainly didn't realize how often she was being photographed. And what's the story with Sam (Charese Scott-Cooper), a fellow camera enthusiast who seems prepared to be James' only friend?

There are a lot of dark undercurrents in this film that need to be discovered slowly as you watch, and I won't risk spoiling them here. It's a strange but very entertaining movie, four out of five stars. Anthony Malchar does an excellent job as the possibly creepy but definitely seriously troubled James, while Jeff Solomon goes wonderfully over the top as antagonist Dale. Adam Stordy as Bobby starts out as a typical bully but manages to get me feeling a little sorry for him by the end.

And the script is very well-written, with believable dialogue and subtle foreshadowing. There's a scene that goes on for an uncomfortably long time (you'll know it when you see it, believe me) but otherwise the pacing is good. You'll probably never feel the same way about certain items of produce again, but it's a small sacrifice to enjoy this quirky, genre-bending film.

Image: 
James in his natural habitat, the cemetery.

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