Friday, January 21, 2011

Gabi on the Roof in July

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Sibling Tensions Escalate in Sensual, Meandering Mumblecore

20 year-old Gabi (Sophia Takal) has just finished the school year at Oberlin where she’s been majoring in theater. But she’s reluctant to spend the summer at home as usual since she’s upset about her parents’ recent divorce.
So, she heads to New York City to stay with her brother, Sam (Lawrence Michael Levine), reasonably expecting to find a sympathetic shoulder to lean on. However, at 30, he’s long since left the nest, and is not nearly as affected by the marital breakup.
Furthermore, as a struggling artist, he has survival issues to confront, like trying to get a gallery to show his work. Plus, he’s busy juggling a couple of cutie pie girlfriends in Madeline (Brooke Bloom) and Chelsea (Amy Seimetz). In fact, he’s so swamped he’s not even there to meet his sister upon her arrival.
Instead, when Gabi lets herself into the unlocked Brooklyn apartment, she is greeted by the sight of a guy who’s passed out in the bathtub. Yet, she hits it off immediately with the slackers hanging out there, including Sam’s rubbery eunuch of a roommate, Charles (Robert White), and Garrett (Louis Cancelmi), a homeless dude who’s been crashing on the couch for over a month.
Soon, the latter has Gabi naked, too, and is tickling her and spraying whipped cream all over her body. And when Sam comes home, instead of covering up modestly, she seductively invites her brother to lick it off.
But he declines the incestuous offer, and suddenly finds himself having to play the adult, berating the bawdy Bohemians to behave. This has no effect on his out of control sibling who proceeds to engage in rough sex with Garrett.
While Gabi can’t communicate with Sam, she can later confide in Dory (Kate Lyn Sheil), a female about her own age, that she’s just surrendered her virginity to Garrett. Nevertheless, it doesn’t take long for her to develop a bad reputation as a party animal, as other admirers arrive asking her brother, “How come you didn’t tell me how cool your sister was?”
Welcome to the hot bed of debauchery that is Gabi on the Roof in July, a meandering mumblecore that proves every bit as compelling as it is jaw-dropping, since you never know what somebody might do next. Written and directed by Lawrence Michael Levine who also co-stars as Sam, the film features a gifted improv ensemble especially the appealing and dynamic Sophia Takal who steals her every scene as the uninhibited title character.
Good girl goes bad, and then some!

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 100 Minutes
Distributor: Little Teeth Pictures

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