Match paints a mismatched pair's opposing points of view in black and white | Film Review | Indy Week
Pin It

Match paints a mismatched pair's opposing points of view in black and white 

Patrick Stewart is a solitary dance teacher in Match.

Courtesy of Ryan Stumpe

Patrick Stewart is a solitary dance teacher in Match.

Director Stephen Belber's Match is an uneven but ultimately tender portrait of the kinship that can arise between strangers.

It centers on Tobi Powell (Patrick Stewart), a dance teacher living a solitary life in the Inwood section of Manhattan. Tobi's life is upended when Mike and Lisa Davis show up to interview him about his dance career on the rather thin pretext that Lisa is writing her dissertation about dance in the 1960s. This pretext falls apart when it is revealed that Lisa and Mike are actually on a mission to determine whether Tobi is Mike's biological father.

Mike, a cop (played by Matthew Lillard with maximum meat-and-potatoes, real-American bellicosity), arrives angry and judgmental at his presumed father. Tobi serves as Mike's foil, calling him a "fascist" in the face of Mike's assertion that the dancer is a "faggot." The first half of the film relies a little too heavily on this dichotomy, giving neither character much space for nuance within their respective prejudices. This stark split between art and life, artists and Regular Joes, is exasperating at times. Belber's screenplay, adapted from his 2004 stage play, hammers the point too hard. When Tobi asks Mike what his favorite part of being a cop is, he responds, "Certitude."

Match is best when it lets the complex inner worlds of its characters shine through, rather than overburdening them to explain their motivations. Stewart's performance swings between awkward, scenery-chewing flamboyance and delicate brokenness. The relationship that develops between Lisa (Carla Gugino) and Tobi permits Stewart to mellow into his own virtuosity, while Gugino's performance brilliantly conveys the sadness and isolation of her marriage to Mike.

This bond between Lisa and Tobi carries Match. Stewart coaxes Gugino's vulnerable figure to extend her arms and, as he puts it, "Let the world move through you." This moment—the two figures with their arms out, standing on a rooftop on the northern tip of Manhattan—is among the film's most affecting scenes. We begin to shake off the claustrophobia of the theatrical one-room set in which the rest of the action unfolds.

Like an increasing number of contemporary American films, Match deals with the legacy of the 1960s and the generational conflict between baby boomers and their offspring. Belber's screenplay attempts, at times successfully, to ask difficult questions about the ethics of sexual liberation and its fallout, as Mike considers his fatherless childhood to be a casualty of the '60s.

At other times, the script has Stewart blurting out cringe-worthy one-liners like "I would have loved to taste her gelato." But when Match hits the mark, it reveals its characters' lives as richer than what they have to say about life—or art.

This article appeared in print with the headline, "No uncertain terms."

Film Details

  • Match

    • Rated R - Comedy, Drama
Match
Rated R · 90 min. · 2015
Director: Stephen Belber
Writer: Stephen Belber
Cast: Carla Gugino, Patrick Stewart, Matthew Lillard, Jaime Tirelli and Rob Yang

Trailer


Now Playing

Match is not showing in any theaters in the area.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Film Review



Twitter Activity

Comments

Much as I hate to be that guy, I must nonetheless point out a minor error in your review. The …

by Just Another Malcontent on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs Is an Alternately Respectful and Baffling Parable About Japan (Film Review)

I loved the movie but I'm curious about the Japanese version. Will it be translated or subtitled? I assume they …

by Neil Robertson on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs Is an Alternately Respectful and Baffling Parable About Japan (Film Review)

Most Read

Most Recent Comments

Much as I hate to be that guy, I must nonetheless point out a minor error in your review. The …

by Just Another Malcontent on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs Is an Alternately Respectful and Baffling Parable About Japan (Film Review)

I loved the movie but I'm curious about the Japanese version. Will it be translated or subtitled? I assume they …

by Neil Robertson on Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs Is an Alternately Respectful and Baffling Parable About Japan (Film Review)

Lurid and Trashy? Clint Eastwood is a true pioneer of cinema-in front of the camera and in the directors chair.For …

by jde on In Her Remake of Clint Eastwood's Lurid, Trashy The Beguiled, Sofia Coppola Probes Deeper Rhythms (Film Review)

Americans are really good at watching movies and everyone knows that they spend a lot of money on watching them, …

by Anil Sharma on The Average American Sees Five Thousand Movies in a Lifetime. Half of Them Come Out This Week. (Film Review)

I read a couple of good reviews about this movie in Hungarian papers. Actually it could be my mother's and …

by Gabor Lukacs on Ferenc Török’s 1945 Is a Dark Fable and a History Lesson Wrapped in Fine Cinematic Storytelling (Film Review)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation