Although the profession of the screenwriter has been highlighted on the big screen many times before (Adaptation, Barton Fink, and Get Shorty), Loitering With Intent makes a valiant effort to strip away bombastic plot devices in order to showcase the writing process itself. No, there aren’t any kidnappings, or murders, or high stakes with loan sharks and gangsters. Instead, the film portrays the rigors of writing just the way it is: frustrating, a bit all over the place, and somewhat boring. Whether or not the audience is up for a simple story in its mundane entirety is purely up to them. Yet what’s to gain is the pure insight into the struggles young and inexperienced writers typically endure. And does so with great performances by Tomei and Rockwell. Loitering With Intent tells the story of two best friends who subject themselves to casting auditions and nightly bartending just to make it by, aspiring to become more preemptive actors and screenwriters. Director Adam Rapp’s countryside dramedy isn’t better because of its realism. There are far better blockbusters and indies that are superior, including the ones mentioned above. Yet nothing feels as wholesome or quaint as Adam Rapp’s Loitering With Intent.
Friends Dominic (Michael Godere) and Raphael (Ivan Martin) are typical struggling actors from New York City. Desperate for their big break, a colleague informs them that her employer has money to be invested in a low-budget indie project. Chalking up their desperation, Dominic contrives a fake script that he promises will garner attention. With ten days to present a script, Dominic and Raphael race to a country house owned by Dominic’s sister in hopes that isolation will accelerate their creative juices. Little do they know, a whole cluster of characters end up on their doorstep unexpectedly, disrupting Dominic and Raphael’s writing retreat, ranging from Dominic’s sister Gigi (Tomei) to her ex-boyfriend Wayne (Sam Rockwell).
Loitering With Intent presents its charm with a healthy dosage of realism, paralleling each character’s failed attempts at success to that of the main characters. Michael Godere and Ivan Martin have great chemistry, but interactions with other characters leave too many gaps within the story’s development. Brian Geraghty’s character Devon, a simpleton jock surfer, is an unendurable stereotype, who like many of the film’s supporting characters is a quirky add-on having trouble fitting in (minus Tomei and Rockwell). Unfortunately for the film, the star power overpowers the remaining character performances.
Isabelle McNally plays Gigi’s beauty of a housekeeper, providing a distraction for both screenwriters, yet becomes a muse for the screenplay Dominic ends up writing. While other characters are trying hard to build their own merits, McNally’s performance is flawless in comparison. Ultimately, Loitering With Intent can’t decide between being an oddball comedy or a drama heightened by its naturalism. Loitering With Intent moves too briskly, at 80 minutes in runtime, to really dive into the conflicts of each character, from Wayne’s anger to Dominic’s obsession with self-validation. By the film’s end, Rapp gains steam without ever hitting home. The film rides the line of comfort, trying to emotionally connect realism and passion, but falls well short of greatness.