Warning, irony ahead: In Twelve Thirty, the Church of the Open Door is locked closed.
That's about as subtle as writer/director Jeff Lipsky's maddeningly talky family drama gets. Set in a sterile, suburban swath of Iowa City, the film follows Jeff (Jonathan Groff, from Glee), a boyish and blank twentysomething, as he has sex with the girl he eyed from afar in high school (Portia Reiners), and then with her older, still-a-virgin sister (Mamie Gummer), and then with the girls' mother (Karen Young).
Between these encounters, which are neither titillating (purposefully so) nor particularly telling, long stretches of theatrical prose are uttered by various members of the cast. As Gummer's Maura, awkward and adrift, dances with Jeff at a party, she makes this pithy observation: "In Times Square, there's a building. It's got a plaque that says, 'Eugene O'Neill was born here in 1888.' That building is now a Starbucks."
"Nothing lasts forever."
There are so many things wrong with this dialogue, from the clunky language (the whole building is now a Starbucks?) to its desperate attempt to associate the author of Long Day's Journey Into Night with this minor-key take on family dysfunction.
Twelve Thirty, which seems to be about the conflicting paths of sexual desire and real love, is shot in a flat filmmaking style that only serves to underscore such unnatural, pretentious speechifying. Reiners and Gummer have respective moments where their talents shine, but there's not enough here to keep any but the most masochistic even moderately interested.
Twelve Thirty *1/2 (out of four stars)
Directed by Jeff Lipsky. With
Mamie Gummer, Jonathan Groff, Portia Reiners, and Karen Young. Distributed by SenArt Films.
Running time: 2 hours, 1 min.
Parent's guide: No MPAA rating (sex, nudity, profanity, adult themes)
Playing at: Ritz at the Bourse
Contact movie critic Steven Rea
at 215-854-5629 or srea@phillynews.
com. Read his blog, "On Movies Online," at http://www.philly.com