There are a few different ways a film can suck, but for the sake of argument I’d like to boil it down to two:
- The above-the-line talent was more concerned with getting into festivals/getting bought than making a coherent piece of work.
- The above-the-line talent made a film they believe in and the resulting film is maybe not so great.
Daniel Schechter’s Supporting Characters, thankfully, falls into the latter category. It’s has its issues and spends the last thirty minutes trying to pay for its sins, but overall it’s an honest piece of work. The problems I have with it are ones that could only be corrected by Schechter making a different film. I’m glad he didn’t because what we have is a mostly enjoyable, if sloppy, piece of work.
The film follows Nick (Alex Karpovsky), a sought after editor of broken (read: shitty) films and Darryl (Tarik Lowe), Nick’s best friend and assistant editor. The two are trying to get a romantic comedy in the can while navigating the murky waters of their personal and professional relationships. Nick can’t help but let his eyes stray from his fiancé, Amy (Sophia Takal), when the film’s star Jamie (Arielle Kebbel) starts tossing pheromones his way. Darryl, meanwhile, is in a destructive relationship with Liana (Melonie Diaz), a dancer who can manipulate him at her whim.
Supporting Characters is about men and the women that get in their way. Sophia Takal, herself a talented filmmaker, is excellent as the adorable and supportive Amy. For my money she makes for a great Anna Kendrick stand-in and is someone who should be getting roles in more sophisticated work. Nick’s problem with Amy seems to be that she’s too supportive. She begrudges that he gets to sleep in and bumble about their spacious Upper West Side apartment, but that’s the extent of her criticisms. Nick isn’t just annoyed by her; he seems to loathe her and avoid her for reasons I can’t understand.
In almost every film he is in, Karpovsky plays a nudnik who is funny enough to get close to beautiful women and plain enough that the weak ones will sleep with him. Here he is a feeble and manipulative editor, but he is so good at convincing women that he is clever that he never sleeps alone. He makes for a very unsympathetic hero. His conflict is whether or not he should bang a movie star or stay engaged to a gorgeous and supportive woman, or do both and cover it up.
Darryl, on the other hand, is the weakling of the team. As Nick’s second fiddle, he is so unsure of himself that he would rather remain in a destructive relationship than be alone. Tarik Lowe, who also co-wrote the film with Schechter, does a great job of bringing this character to life. He’s not too complicated, but clearly he has an axe to grind with his lot in life. As good as Nick tries to be, he is ultimately a jerk; watching Darryl reconcile this fact with his own business is the more interesting storyline.
If you ask me whether or not I think Supporting Characters is a good film, I’ll tell you that I don’t think it is. I can’t get over how uninteresting the women are and how annoying Karpovsky’s character is. But it’s an honest piece of work made by a filmmaker who seems sure of himself. That is commendable, and I’m excited to see Daniel Schechter’s next project.