Love in the Time of Money
November 1, 2002
Set in New York City, this indie film from Blow Up Pictures was acquired for distribution by ThinkFilm at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival. Playwright Peter Mattei both wrote and directed the film, which winds its way through the lives of various New York "couplings" using a unique episodic structure. It begins with a first-time hooker and a creepy john, then we follow the john to a contracting job where he is seduced by a wealthy housewife, then on to a scene between the housewife and her husband, and so on. Eventually, after getting a brief glimpse at the lives of nine separate pairs, the movie comes full circle back to the prostitute. The film is inspired by Arthur Schnitzler's Reigen, which was a sharp jab at everything that was wrong about sexual mores in Vienna in the early 20th century. In Mattei's updated version, the story focuses on loneliness and the way that '90s society focused on cash and career at the expense of true companionship.
The eclectic cast includes Steve Buscemi (recently of Monsters, Inc. and Ghost World), Rosario Dawson (Josie and the Pussycats), Jill Hennessey (the TV series Crossing Jordan), Carol Kane (best known from the classic TV series Taxi) and Malcolm Gets (probably best known as Richard from Caroline in the City). Because the film is very heavy on dialogue, Mattei relies heavily on his actors to elicit the appropriate responses throughout the film.
Love in the Time of Money was developed through the Sundance Institute and executive-produced by Robert Redford, with a budget of under a million dollars. Because the director wanted to focus on performance, he chose to shoot the film on digital video to allow for this flexibility. All reports do seem to indicate that he and cinematographer Steve Kazmierski (You Can Count on Me) have managed to capture the essence of New York City in a stylized fashion that is particularly impressive for the medium.
This is a film that screams for limited release in art houses and at film festivals. While the premise and structure sound intriguing, it has received fairly middling reviews, and I don't expect to see it expand much beyond that point. (Kim Hollis/BOP)