Garth Maxwell co-wrote and directed this 1998 New Zealand film and despite some rough edges in the production process and in areas of weak scripting and format, the message of repairing our individual perception problems in order to be open to acknowledge and embrace love when it comes along is a story worth telling. In the case of this film, it is three stories worth telling!
Mark (Dean O'Gorman) is a wannabe songwriter, poet, druggie, and hedonist who has problems with intimacy (we are unsure whether he is comfortable with his sexuality, whether he has been a hustler to support his nebulous lifestyle...). He is introduced to us by his 'pals' - two lesbian performers Fig (Nancy Brunning) and Sally (Sophia Hawthorne) - in a narrative way and who proceed to tell us Mark's history as it has developed in their eyes (this is a bit stagy and awkward, but it gets the story rolling). Mark is the heartthrob of Stephen (Simon Prast), an older, more mature man than Mark who tries to lead him into a productive life. Into town comes New Zealand's most popular singer Katie Keen (Rena Owen) who has come home from a long stay in Los Angeles where her career has been on the skids. She is no longer young, no longer has engagements, and is in need of her closest friend Stephen's consolation.
Katie must confront her age and her career state, Stephen must move on his deep feelings for Mark, Mark must get off the wild life and focus on what matters, and Fig and Sally need to get their amateur status boosted. The cycle of these needs is magnified when the five go to a beach house and Katie's 'boyfriend' Eddie (Simon Westaway) shows up with some surprise news that changes Katie's life, allows Stephen and Mark to confront their blocks, and provides an opportunity for Fig and Sally they least expected.
The cast is for the most part very strong. There are moments of rather bad music performance that could have been edited without diminishing the story, and there are some script techniques that get in the way. But by and large this is a feel good movie that deals with relationships of all types and offers light to people who think they are incapable of love. Maxwell is saying to be ready when love comes along! Grady Harp, August 06