Tribeca 2012: ‘Supporting Characters’ – a relevant and satisfying comedy

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Supporting Characters

Written by Daniel Schetcher and Tarik Lowe

Directed by Daniel Schetcher

USA, 2012

Nick (Alex Karpovsky)and Darryl (Tarik Lowe) work as an editing team. They’ve been hired to polish a substandard romantic comedy. Over the course of the project, Nick meets Jaime (Arielle Kebbel), the star of the film, and the two plunge headfirst into a playful but not altogether harmless flirtation. This unexpected development complicates Nick’s commitment to his adorable fiancée Amy (Sophia Takal). Meanwhile, Darryl must contend with the extreme highs and lows of a fledgling romance with his highly emotional love interest, Liana (Melonie Diaz). And to compound all this, Nick and Darryl’s perfect partnership gets tested when Nick receives a job offer, but the budget on the new film isn’t big enough to accommodate an assistant editor.

Supporting Characters succeeds where a lot of industry films of this type fail by keeping it simple. Director Daniel Schetcher and co-writer/co-star Tarik Lowe neatly sidestep the danger of alienating a lay audience by keeping the focus on everyday interactions and use the filmmaking angle merely as an interesting backdrop. Fortunately for us, the characters here are not their jobs, even though the plot examines the nature of working relationships just as carefully as it does romantic ones.

In one revelatory instance of meta-commentary, Adrian (Kevin Corrigan), the often unhinged director of the film within this film, says to a waiter, “Excuse me. Are you a quirky waiter? Or are you a depressed waiter? You’re a complicated, complex human being.” And that’s the key concept behind the triumphs of Supporting Characters. Through layered performances and down-to-earth dialogue, the cast and crew of this film manage to make the people and situations appear wholly realistic.

If this film falters, it’s likely because of a tendency to be too situational. While it’s true that its relatability is grounded in common experience, the script doesn’t really take many chances, and it offers a fun but somewhat run-of-the-mill premise. However, one thing that never comes across stale is the adroitly slick banter that passes between Nick and Darryl. Their barbed exchanges infuse each scene they share with astute humor and provide some comically memorable moments.

Its character dynamics and canny observations distinguish Supporting Characters as a relevant and satisfying comedy. And if an exploration of the pitfalls and intersections of professional and personal life sounds like trodden territory, rest assured the credibility of the personalities found herein lend the film a style and voice all of its own.

– Kenneth Broadway

 

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