I spent the weekend attending screenings at the United Film Festival in Los Angeles, and although I expected these past few days to feel like just another long string of artsy flicks and forced conversations I ended up being really impressed by the lineup and even seeing one movie that downright inspired me. This inspiring film is called “Supporting Characters,” and it’s a lovelorn comedy about two movie editors who are grappling to make sense of their own dating lives while working to finish a seemingly straightforward romance flick. The film’s two stars (Alex Karpovsky and Tarik Lowe) have a rare brand of chemistry with each other, and their discussions of love, sex, and friendship keep the audience laughing out loud at a fast clip. Not only does the charismatic acting and flawlessly paced editing of the film make it thoroughly entertaining, but the movie possesses a quality that I haven’t seen in a comedy (romantic, bromantic, or otherwise) in quite a few years: it has major heart…This is all to say, there is something so genuine about the characters’ quests for love and their missteps in the name of lust that makes the film oh-so refreshing, human, and real.
I left the theater wishing I could eavesdrop on Karpovsky and Lowe’s hilarious exchanges for many more hours to come, but since this wasn’t a possibility I instead started thinking back to a New Yorker article I read long ago, which bemoaned the state of romance in modern cinema. The article detailed how far the romantic-comedy genre has fallen since Frank Capra’s “It Happened One Night” (1934), and it opened my eyes to a growing trend in on-screen romance, which the author termed the “slacker-striver” phenomenon (a.k.a., a relationship between a male loser and a female overachiever). All those years ago when I first put down that magazine, my mind was preoccupied for weeks on end with what the author coined “the disenchantment of romantic comedy” and it was from this preoccupation that I first got the inkling that I wanted to be a screenwriter. Even though I quickly went on to discover my passion lay in writing female-driven horror/thrillers instead of romantic comedies, the ideas this article presented about portraying strong women and depicting relationships between equals has stuck with me in everything I’ve written since. And, while “Supporting Characters” may not have completely answered this articles’ open call for re-envisioned romance at the movies, I think it more than responded to the plea for more love-worthy male characters. The film is a bromance, so – make no mistake about it – there are no Clark Gables here; BUT, the men in “Supporting Characters” are people who really, truly want to love, be loved, and accomplish meaningful things with their lives, making the movie a uniquely genuine, modern take on romance that is more than worth the price of admission.
I am so grateful for the way this film inspired me to reflect back on the lofty ideals that got me into screenwriting in the first place, and I highly recommend that everyone else see it – whether in search of inspiration or a hearty dose of laughs. Because the movie is an indie project currently making the film-festival rounds, it will be a bit tricky to track down. However, I can tell you that it is slated to screen soon at United Film Festival in New York City, which takes place May 11-17. I hope you get a chance to see it, and I can’t wait to hear what you think. Leave a comment.