The indie romantic comedy "Easy," written and directed by first-timer Jane Weinstock, would appear to have all the attributes for success: an appealing lead actress (Marguerite Moreau, who has the apple-cheeked charm of a slightly older Lindsay Lohan), two handsome potential partners (played by Naveen Andrews, of "The English Patient," and Irish actor Brian F. O'Byrne), some snappy dialogue that sounds like the way smart real people talk, and a high quirk factor that includes a scene of a turtle receiving an enema. (Just when you think you've seen it all ... )
So why does it ultimately disappoint, never rising above watchable competence? Because we never quite care about these characters, attractive as they might be; Weinstock's screenplay takes too many shortcuts, never letting the characters emerge as people in their own right, rather than as a collection of carefully assigned character traits.
Jamie, the 25-year-old main character (Moreau), is free-spirited, shown by her messy apartment and heavy-handedly adorable habits, such as wearing a cutely customized headset while on the phone at home, or brushing her teeth while driving. Laura (Emily Deschanel), her sister, is uptight and cleans her house with a toothbrush.
As the movie opens, we learn that Jamie has a bad habit: She's, as the title indicates, easy. Laura, safely married, lectures her sister on not having sex with a guy too soon. Jamie intends to comply, but when cute poet John (Andrews) shows signs of leaving her apartment ... well, things happen.
"I thought sex was my last chance," she tells Laura sadly. Obviously Jamie has some Intimacy Issues, which she gets a chance to sort out when she has an accident, briefly languishes in a coma, and then recovers at home for a while. (Not that Jamie's career is anything too stressful: She works as a product namer, a job which seems to consist of lounging around her apartment in pajamas, thinking about stuff.)
So, will she choose John or friendly TV comedian Mick (O'Byrne)? What will happen when Mick's former wife, now bisexual, wants to have his baby? Or when Laura's husband turns out to have Intimacy Issues of his own? Or when everybody, about three-quarters of the way through the movie, switches partners as if at a square dance, giving the unfortunate impression that none of these attractive Angelenos knows anybody outside of this tightly closed circle? And what about that poor turtle?
Jamie's eventual realization that getting to know a guy before getting naked isn't such a bad idea after all isn't much of a peg to hang a movie on, particularly for an audience beyond its early 20s. "Easy" works best as a low-key showcase of a talented cast, and a promise of better things to come.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org