The Aisle Seat - Movie Reviews by Mike McGranaghan
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THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan


Vincent N Roxxy

Vincent N Roxxy falls squarely in the category of indie crime dramas about troubled men whose lives are transformed by enigmatic and alluring women. Anyone who consumes even a moderately steady diet of independent cinema has been down this road before. Still, when the formula is done well, there can be pleasures to it. Writer/director Gary Michael Schultz executes it with a boldness that catches you off-guard and hooks you, and he's aided by two outstanding stars.

Emile Hirsch plays Vincent, a loner from a small town. He's close to no one, outside of his bad-boy brother JC (Emory Cohen) and JC's bartender girlfriend Kate (Zoey Deutch). One day, he intervenes when he sees a man beating a woman on the town's main drag. She is Roxxy (Zoe Kravitz), a beguiling, free-spirited soul with a host of problems. Vincent tries to help her, even putting her up in a trailer on his family's land. The two quickly find themselves attracted to each other. Then the true source of her problems shows up. He is Suga (played by rapper Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi). Suddenly their lives are in peril.

The magic of Vincent N Roxxy comes from the performances. Emile Hirsch smartly avoids all the cliches of troubled loners, creating a character who would probably make a better life for himself if he had the means or the know-how. In his hands, Vincent is essentially good-hearted, but lacking the wherewithal to follow any dreams he may have, which means he's stuck in his dead-end town. Zoe Kravitz, meanwhile, is absolutely brilliant as Roxxy. Kravitz has seemed for a long time to be right on the cusp of major stardom without ever quite breaking through. If there was any justice in the movie world, her work here would propel her onto the A-list. The actress shows how Roxxy is something of a walking contradiction. She's fierce in some ways, fragile in others. We know completely why Vincent is drawn to her.

Schultz uses a lot of long takes that allow us to savor the very real chemistry between the two leads. In some ways, Vincent N Roxxy is like a criminal version of Before Sunrise. The characters talk, get to know each other, share their views of the world and their depressed place in it, and so on. Even if few overt things take place in the first two-thirds, we remain invested because these individuals are so well-drawn, and because Hirsch and Kravitz are so winning.

That brings us to the last half-hour. In its third act, Vincent N Roxxy has one of the most jarring shifts in tone that I've ever seen. What begins as an intimate drama about two sad people finding a connection abruptly becomes riddled with envelope-pushing violence. To follow up on the comparison, it's like Quentin Tarantino wandered into the finale of Before Sunrise and decided it needed some action to go out on. Despite being a little incongruous with everything that preceded it, the shift kind of works in its own weird way because the story has taken the time to make us understand the relationship between the characters. We therefore understand why the violence is as extreme as it is.

In spite of the indie familiarity of the plot and the not-entirely-smooth change of tone, I haven't stopped thinking about Vincent N Roxxy since seeing it. Emile Hirsch and Zoe Kravitz do such strong work that any little flaws the picture may have are forgivable. The movie gets bonus points for powerful use of the XX's song “Angels” over a love scene and the end credits.

In a summer movie season that's going to be filled with superheroes, shootouts, and creatures of every variety, here's an engaging adult drama about damaged people confronting the reality that they cannot remove the inevitability of violence from their lives, no matter how hard they try.

( out of four)

Vincent N Roxxy is rated R for brutal bloody violence, language throughout, some strong sexual content, nudity, and brief drug use. The running time is 1 hour and 41 minutes.

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