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SAY YOU'LL BE MINE.

(ROMANTIC COMEDY)

An Eagle Beach Prods. production. Produced by Libby Langdon, Michael Corrente. Executive producer, Clark Sammartino. Co-producer, Maris Polvino.

Directed, written by Brad Kane. Camera (color), Richard Crudo; editor, Bill Marmor; music, Sheldon Mirowitz; production designer, Chad Detwiller; costume designer, Annie Dunn; sound, William Sweeney; casting, Michael Corrente, Libby Langdon. Reviewed at Seattle Film Festival, June 5, 1999. Running time: 98 MIN.
Ben                                               Nicky Katt
Julia                                          Libby Langdon
Josh                                          Daniel Lapaine
Melanie                                           Megan Ward
Chelsea                                      Justine Bateman
Mason                                            Gil Bellows
Katherine                                      Rya Kihlstedt


With: Nicole Sullivan, Mark Dold, Barbara Orson, Nigel Gore, Sean Gildea, Renato Termale, Mariah Nunn, Donna Lubrano, Dan Welch, Peter Farrelly.

Here's a recommendation one never expected: The best reason to catch this romantic comedy is Justine Bateman. Not that the rest of "Say You'll Be Mine" doesn't have plenty to offer, but the tube veteran turns out to have a snappier edge than anyone might have figured. NYC-set pic has some routine moments, but there's enough originality in all departments to lift it above most lovesick indie fare. Appealing cast could help give it a crack at limited theatrical playoff before bedding down in inevitable cable berths.

The sad sack centering this tale of off-kilter twentysomethings is Ben (Nicky Katt), a would-be writer with a longtime jones for Julia (Libby Langdon), who's sort of distracted by her upcoming marriage to his best friend, Josh (Australia's Daniel Lapaine). Sensing that something's amiss, she works hard to set Ben up with her pal Melanie (Megan Ward), a bubbly theater student. Much as he tries to resist her, she's simply too adorable to blow off, which is what he normally does with women who aren't Julia.

Consequently, he spends rest of pic waffling between his heart, slowly melting to the newcomer's warmth, and his head, tenaciously holding on to an empty ideal. For advice, he goes to his sister, Chelsea (Bateman), a hard-as-nails divorce lawyer who treats everything like a minor clause to be ironed out between cigarettes. Actually, she doesn't know that much about relationships; her businessman husband is always out of town -- which is one reason she fires her revolver at him when he comes home early from a work trip. Certainly, Ben is surprised to find her back in the office so soon after taking her mate to the hospital. "People don't stop divorcing each other," she coolly explains, "just because I shot my husband."

For better role models, he can't exactly turn to Melanie's roommates (real-life marrieds Gil Bellows and Rya Kihlstedt), who are always fighting when they aren't even more noisily having sex all over the apartment. In this crowd, Ben's a bit of a quiet customer, which makes him perhaps too low-key to carry the movie. Fortunately, the side characters have enough humanizing quirks to sustain viewer interest, and everyone grows at a steady enough pace to wring some surprising changes by the end. Background textures of the theater scene and other urban elements make up for some bland foregrounding. Ben's chemistry with Julia, for instance, isn't quite as compelling to the viewer as it is to him.

First-timer Brad Kane was only 21 when he wrote this script, and philosophically, it does have some of the limitations of youth. As a helmer, though, he knows how to entertain, whether digging up unique locations (interiors were mostly shot in Rhode Island) or adding smart diversions. For one, "MadTV" vet Nicole Sullivan makes a particularly vivid cameo as an old chum who accidentally lays some truths on the over-rationalized hero.

Richard Crudo's cool-colored lensing ups the hip quotient, as does bluesy alternarock score. Auds will want more of Bateman, who's a scream in every scene, but the physically inventive Bellows, in particular, has no trouble taking up the comic slack.3
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:EISNER, KEN
Publication:Variety
Article Type:Movie Review
Date:Jun 21, 1999
Words:628
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