Vincent N Roxxy

***

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Emile Hirsch as Vincent and Zoë Kravitz as Roxxy in Vincent N Roxxy
"Though she's following in the footsteps of many an exploitation movie heroine before her, Kravitz carries it well."

What would you do if you saw a stranger being attacked in the street? The police advice is, generally, to phone for help. In fact, most people do nothing. Vincent (Emile Hirsch) rushes in to stop the assault. "Wouldn't anyone?" he asks, revealing a naive streak and also a kind of opportunism which will become relevant later on.

Is he just taking the opportunity to have an attractive young woman feeling indebted to him? Roxxy (Zoë Kravitz), who subsequently accepts a ride in his car, is alert to that possibility. Her guard is up, but it's complicated. If he's one of those guys, she's not going to let him get close. If he's a decent human being, well, then she wants him to stay away from her for a different reason.

Vincent N Roxxy has been billed as if it were a road movie but it's really more of a small town drama. This is the kind of suffocating small town embroiled in constant power struggles, where violence has become endemic. Roxxy is being hunted, but why? Just what is it that her pursuers are after? As she and Vincent get to know one another we discover that he too has secrets. They're plainly falling for each other (the promotional materials claim this is 'unexpected', which stretches credulity) but it's not easy for her to give anyone her trust.

Much of this is routine thriller stuff. The action scenes are well handled but there's not much to make it stand out until the end, when the narrative shifts focus and Roxxy, rather than Vincent, moves to the fore. Though she's following in the footsteps of many an exploitation movie heroine before her, Kravitz carries it well. In playing a character with increasingly hard edges, she still maintains the vulnerability that lets viewers care and keeps us uncertain of her fate, yet she never comes across as a helpless woman playing a man's game. Her weakness lies in her humanity, giving this, in places, something of the character of a western.

With Kravitz easing herself into the lead, Hirsch struggles by comparison, never really showing us the emotional complexity needed to make sense of his storyline. He's adequate but not much more, which is also the case with most of the supporting cast. This being the case, the film relies heavily on atmosphere. Ahmir-Khalib Thompson's music is stronger than average for an indie production of this type but sometimes becomes overbearing, and along with Alex Disenhof's murky cinematography, finding shadows within shadows in the sepia-toned interiors, it attempts to pile on tension in a way that becomes self-defeating. Meanwhile, the story is underdeveloped and never grips as tightly as it should.

As a sophomore feature (for director Gary Michael Schultz) this isn't bad, and it certainly has its moments, but ultimately it's a Thursday night DVD thriller rather than the Saturday night headliner Kravitz's work deserves.

Reviewed on: 28 May 2017
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A man steps in to help a woman attacked in the street, and gets more than he bargained for.

Director: Gary Michael Schultz

Writer: Keith Kjarval, Gary Michael Schultz

Starring: Emile Hirsch, Zoë Kravitz, Zoey Deutch, Emory Cohen, Scott Mescudi, Beau Knapp, Jason Mitchell, Jeff Gum, Kim Collins, Joey Bicicchi, Sheldon Frett, Lance Tafelski, Jared Bankens, Hakim Callender, Juan Gaspard

Year: 2016

Runtime: 110 minutes

Country: US

Festivals:

Tribeca 2016

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