CineVegas Review: ‘Easier With Practice’
For many, the act of finding and then retaining a meaningful relationship is easy. It comes naturally to these people, for some it occurs once and lasts forever and for many more it occurs over and over, with varying levels of success. Then you have that group of deserving individuals who just don’t have that ingrained knack for making the romantic bonds between two human beings work for them. The formula for getting from point A to point B with an intimate relationship eludes these people and they find themselves feeling like outsiders, even though they yearn for the same connection as everyone else on the inside.
‘Easier With Practice’ is a wonderful little film written and directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, based on a GQ article by Davy Rothbart. Brian Geraghty plays Davy Mitchell, a writer who works as a temp to pay the bills. Davy and his brother Sean (Kel O’Neill) set out on a book tour across the country together in Sean’s old POS station wagon to promote Davy’s book. During their journey from town to town, Sean spends his free time in the bars and picking up chicks while Davy, exhausted from the weeks of traveling and living off of PB&J sandwiches, spends most of his free time in hotel rooms, bored and lonely.
Davy is one of those individuals unable to make that romantic formula work. He struggles with this, seeing this come so easily to his brother, but at the same time frustrated with him for taking that gift for granted. During one of their stops, Davy receives a phone call on the hotel room phone from a mysterious woman. Davy believes this call to be a wrong number at first, but the woman aggressively forces her sexuality upon Davy, who finds himself strangely drawn to her advances. After a relatively “successful” first call, Davy and the woman named Nicole choose to continue their intimate phone relationship throughout the book tour.
The heart of ‘Easier With Practice’ lies within Davy’s longing for the type of relationship that has eluded him his whole life. Davy sees the the signals from interested parties but lacks the ability to move on them. Davy and Nicole maintain a healthy phone sex relationship, but it also develops into a more intimate and personal friendship as well. Davy’s life seems to be turning around for him, until he asks to meet Nicole and she refuses. She prefers this type of arrangement with Davy, and for a while Davy feels the same. With time, however, Davy feels this relationship could never truly be real unless they can physically be together, but is Davy truly ready to match a face and body to the voice he has come to hold so close?
‘Easier With Practice’ embraces that uncomfortable feeling of self-inflicted loneliness. The film perfectly captures Davy’s unrealized passion for a partner he has not yet met, building on his expectations, should the day he and Nicole meet ever occur. Davy attempts to keep his relationship with Nicole a secret, concerned that he feel ashamed of the fact, which only fuels his insistence on meeting her. Once home from his trip, Nicole stops calling and Davy truly realizes how much his virtual time with Nicole has affected him and his life as he shuts himself off from the world, hoping Nicole reconnects with him.
The entire film was shot on the new RED ONE digital technology and it shows. The atmosphere of the film is moody and slightly tarnished, but the camera manages to pick up on and elaborate an incredible amount of detail and the color palette is at once drab and alluring. ‘Easier With Practice’ leads the viewer down a slower, more methodical path of revelation that allows for Davy to reflect on the direction of his life. Slow and boring, however is not an appropriate way to describe the film.
As an audience, we really get to know Davy and we empathize with his heavy heart and longing. One of my favorite visual themes in the film is the use of isolation to convey Davy’s feeling of the same. The film was shot in New Mexico, a state with vast stretches of barren landscape, easy to isolate one’s self while at the same time surrounded by immense natural beauty. It’s a metaphor for Davy’s situation, isolated but still surrounded by so much beauty.
If the visual acuity and attention to the cinematic conveyance of feeling was great, the incorporation of indie music into the film’s landscape was down right brilliant. Kyle Patrick Alvarez is said to be quite the indie music enthusiast and it shows, having meticulously selected and placed an absolutely perfect soundtrack into his film. The songs were carefully chosen and used not just to fill silent space, but to accentuate a scene or emotion and further move the story along in a constructive fashion. The soundtrack to ‘Easier With Practice’ reads like a pop fans worst nightmare, featuring indie musicians and bands unknown to many like Emily Easterly, Source Victoria, Deer Tick and Grizzly Bear, not to mention the other 10 or more bands with licenced music featured on the theatrical playlist.
I have to admit, ‘Easier With Practice’ has a bit of an advantage from the start as it’s the type of indie film that I’m really enthusiastic about. With that said, the film still had to impress me and I can honestly say I am impressed, even more so after researching the making of the film and learning that Alvarez managed to put together such a great film in so little time and seemingly without a hitch. If there’s one movie that will premiere this year and deserve the attention of audiences on a massive scale, ‘Easier With Practice’ is definitely ranked highly amongst the candidates.