“Loitering with Intent” is the kind of meandering character study that just works when it works. It concerns two struggling actors living in Brooklyn who may have an opportunity to get a movie made that they pretend to have already written. Of course, they plan to star in it, and they have 10 days to write the script before the money goes away.
This seems to be the sort of scenario that led to “Loitering with Intent” itself. It stars two guys who also wrote the movie, Ivan Martin and Michael Godere, and they enlisted personal friends and more famous movie stars Marisa Tomei and Sam Rockwell to co-star and produce the movie. These long-established relationships are evident on screen, and drive the story.
As characters, Dominic and Raphael are longtime friends, out-of-work actors and fellow bartenders when their friend, played by Natasha Lyonne, alerts them to some cash she has to produce a low-budget film. They quickly pitch her a nonexistent project, then must find a way to get it written. Their decision to decamp to Dominic’s sister’s country house, reminiscent of “Withnail and I,” quickly leads to unexpected reunions.
First, a gorgeous young girl named Ava shows up; then, that evening, Dominic’s sister Gigi (Tomei), who also has a romantic past with Raphael, drives practically into the house, roaring drunk and fresh off a fight with her longtime boyfriend. That boyfriend, a dangerously unhinged ex-Marine played menacingly by Rockwell, soon appears as well to threaten the ever-changing country idyll.
As the guys try to write their script and old feelings rekindle between Gigi and Raphael, not much happens, but the relationships are so fully developed and the moments between characters so true. The frustrations of the creative process echo the frustrations between people and in both cases, the question seems always to be, is it worth trying? The answer seems always to be, yes.
As the days go by, people come and go, drinking, writing and fighting. Love triangles emerge and old wounds are opened. I’m not surprised Tomei was partially responsible for the film, because her character is beautiful and irresistible, realistic and flawed, but also put on a pedestal.
The characters in “Loitering with Intent” debate whether or not they have “it,” an indefinable quality that makes them exciting and watchable. I can attest that they do; the warmth, energy and intimacy between actors makes the seemingly simple narrative of this film into a memorable experience.
“Loitering with Intent” is available to rent and to stream on Hoopla, a service provided to cardholders of the Mobile Public Library.