Judge Christopher Kulik is steaming like a latte.
Or, three fine actresses in one dismal drama.
Set in suburban New Jersey, Steam focuses on three women and their current predicaments when it comes to love. They don't know each other, but run into each other from time to time in the steam room at their local gym.
Doris (Ruby Dee, American Gangster) is a recent widow who finds herself hounded by the local church to embrace God. Her loneliness is eventually cleansed by a chance meeting with a kindly gentleman named August (Dick Anthony Williams, Edward Scissorhands).
Meanwhile, Laurie (Ally Sheedy, The Breakfast Club) is a single mother in her early 40s who's still hurt by her ex-husband re-marrying a much-younger woman. Despite the urging of a friend, she feels uncomfortable asking out her son's football coach, who's in his late 20s. Imagine her surprise, however, when he pursues her!
Then there's Elizabeth (Kate Siegel, See How They Run), a college freshman who still feels entrapped by her uber-religious parents. One day, she develops a serious crush on a sexy party girl named Niala (Reshma Shetty, Royal Pains). Will she be able to keep it a secret from her parents?
For nearly two hours, we see how these women's lives parallel and the numerous complications that threaten their relationships. Sounds like a reasonable escape, except that Steam is too ponderous and protracted to really embrace.
The major problem is writer-director Kyle Schickner relies too often on secondhand emotions to carry the story. Another flaw is his heavy-handed attempts at irony, as he gives each of his three characters a similar road to travel. In the end, Steam just ends up being obvious and repetitive, despite Schickner's good intentions.
Thanks to the terrific actresses, however, the film barely stays alfloat. They give everything they got, which is admirable. Veteran Dee is the most memorable of the trio, though newcomers Siegel and Shetty are also impressive. And then there's Sheedy, who retains that low-key sweetness she's had ever since Wargames. Unfortunately, none of these ladies can raise Steam above sheer mediocrity.
I can't say for sure what the final product will look like, as Wolfe sent us
a screener that housed only the movie and its trailer. Regardless, the film is
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Scales of Justice
Studio: Wolfe Video
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