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At the Movies: Midlife Crisis?: Multiple Sarcasms 1 1/2 stars out of 5

Apparently many counseling psychologists seek out emotional therapists for the exact reasons of their initial clients. The stress of discussing other people’s issues must be a weighing career and a healthy discussion with another professional is probably a considerable release. This is how an individual feels after a viewing of writer/director Brooks Branch’s film Multiple Sarcasms, listening to a depressed and whiney Timothy Hutton in the lead role dribble his way through a mid-life crisis.

You might need to seek some therapy of your own after a session with the patient Gabriel Richmond (Hutton), an archeologist in his late ‘40s that decides the life he’s leading isn’t exactly what he expected. Gabriel has what many would describe as a fulfilling life. He has a successful career, a beautiful wife Annie (Dana Delany) and an intelligent young daughter, Elizabeth (India Ennenga) residing with his family in an apartment in Upper West Side. If anything, it looks like the New York City family man has everything, but we soon learn through his constant grumbling and escapes from responsibilities, he is far from being satisfied.

The film is set in 1979, which is interesting because it feels like the story doesn’t need the time period specification. It’s as if Branch and his co-writer Linda Morris thought that by setting the film in the raw energy of the late seventies New York they would automatically gain credibility. By all means, the locations, sets, and soundtrack are brimming with the look and feel of the era, but the mood of the depressed filled character are not heightened by this choice. If anything it appears that the filmmakers were obsessed with this artistic direction and loss sight of the story.

I will concede that the one obvious reason for the time period choice is that Gabriel gets his hands on a tape recorder and typewriter, and that becomes the beginning of his obsession with the downward spiral of his life. Instead of only confiding in his best friend, Cari (Mira Sorvino), he begins to hole himself up in the bathroom, recording his apparent misfortunes so as to turn them into a stage play. Now having a new goal in mind, Gabriel’s deconstruction of his relationships and life thus far lead to the unraveling of all his complaints. If Gabriel was unsatisfied with his life previously, he’s surely done a number on it now.       

Did I forget to mention this movie is a comedy? You know, a dark-comedy about real life issues and choices. Come on; give the audience some credit here. This movie has been done before and with much more expertise than this endeavor. It’s not an entirely painful experience though, Sorvino is charming as the punk rock record endorser and as annoying as Gabriel is, that just goes to show Hutton’s capability as an actor. Stockard Channing is refreshing as a literary agent as well, stating that maybe people are interested in a whiney mid-aged guy. She was right, right on.


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