Daniel Schechter’s new comedy SUPPORTING CHARACTERS follows the tribulations of a pair of film editors (Alex Karpovsky and Tarik Lowe) who are trying to salvage what sounds like a godawful romantic comedy about a down-on-her-luck dogwalker (Arielle Kebbel). As they go through the process of cutting scenes and re-recording dialogue, both struggle with relationship problems and creative roadblocks—but it’s hardly the uplifting industry exposé you’re expecting. Thankfully, it’s much funnier than that.
Karpovsky’s character, Nick, is having trouble with his fiancée, Amy (Sophia Takal), and finds himself unexpectedly drawn to Jamie (Kebbel), the glamorous star of the film he’s re-editing. At one point, Nick gives a little speech about the plight of film editors; they feel like they know the stars of their films intimately, since they stare at them on screen all day, but in reality the stars—and, by implication, the audience—don’t even know that the editors exist. Nick is pedantic to a fault; even when he’s hanging out at home with his fiancée, he sounds like he’s conducting a lecture rather than a conversation. Though Karpovsky and Takal could vie for top prize in an annoying vocal inflection competition, they manage to make their characters’ relationship believable, if only just.
Darryl (Lowe), on the other hand, is madly in love with a girl he’s barely met, and his over-enthusiasm is both distracting him from his job as assistant editor and blinding him to his girlfriend’s obvious extra-curricular activities. Though he’s plagued by naivete, Darryl gets some of the funniest moments in the film; a scene in which he has to fill in as vocal talent (“Put a leash on this motherf***ing dog!”) is one of the funniest things I’ve seen in this year’s festival so far. As both Nick and Darryl’s personal lives become more complicated, they take out their frustrations on their film and on each other, and the project teeters on the brink of disaster. Throw in a crotchety director (Kevin Corrigan) bent on retaking creative control, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
The acting in this film is great, despite lots of intense irony and self-referentiality. All the characters could be incredibly annoying, and they all come close to it at times, but Schechter manages to keep the story’s momentum his priority, and fortunately SUPPORTING CHARACTERS doesn’t devolve into a series of pretentious mini-character studies. The end result is hilarious, mildly touching and completely satisfying; the dynamic between Nick and Darryl is what holds the film together, and Karpovsky and Lowe are surprisingly well-matched as a comic duo. Setting their relationship within the nitty-gritty world of post-production makes it all the more entertaining, at least for the audience of critics and industry types with whom I saw the film. Here’s hoping that those outside the industry find it just as amusing.
© Lita Robinson 2012