At first glance Multiple Sarcasms would appear to be a nod to the old Blake Edwards romantic comedies of the '70s and '80s, where the male lead juggles all of the female relationships in his life, be in marital, sexual or platonic. He'd even have a male friend to voice these concerns off of. However, where Edwards' films had quality actors like Dudley Moore and John Ritter deliver those performances, Multiple Sarcasms doesn't, and pays the price for it.
Written and directed by Brooks Branch (who is doing both for the first time), Timothy Hutton (Leverage) plays Gabriel, a man who has a loving wife (played by Dana Delaney, Desperate Housewives) and child and a career as an architect. It is a successful career, but not a personally fulfilling one. He decides to quit his job and start writing, even going so far as hiring an agent. Pamela (Stockard Channing, The West Wing) likes his work and hopes that he continues it. He finds that with the use of a tape recorder, he wanted to accomplish more from his life than he has, and begins "re-writing" his life in order to try and accomplish this.
Hutton does manage to portray this middle-age conflict rather effectively; the film is set in 1979 New York, but these feelings of internal strife and Gabriel's dilemma translate, regardless of the era. Even with his wife and daughter who treat him well, he's still compelled to drunkenly attempt to hook up with a longtime friend named Cari (Mira Sorvino, Gods and Generals), who owns a club. She rebuffs his attempts because they're not beneficial and she seems to know that Gabriel would be in the same unsatisfied place with her, and wants to avoid it. That Gabriel doesn't see that makes for a fascinating turn on the traditional "guy trying to find the right girl" aspect of a story.
From a performance perspective, Hutton does carry the story within the film pretty well, and juggles the mind of the conflicted male adequately. The male lead he plays off of in the film is Rocky (Mario Van Peebles, New Jack City). Van Peebles is the only one who really dresses the part, even if his performance is on the underwhelming side of things. Moreover, separating from Blake Edwards' films further, the female roles are vastly underused. Sorvino, Delaney and Channing are bland and don't appear in scenes long enough to make much of an impact. The only female who plays a positive impact on Gabriel's life is his daughter Elizabeth (India Ennenga), which says more about the proven actresses' lack of effort as it does about Ennenga's contribution.
And it's the cast contributions that also make Multiple Sarcasms a disappointing effort. Given the right hands and a slightly better story, it could have made for an independent film that could have been seen as charming, affable, and perhaps a little bit memorable. But it comes off as trying to do one thing which it doesn't even do all that well.The Blu-ray Disc:
Multiple Sarcasms comes to Blu-ray in an AVC-encoded 1.78:1 high-definition presentation that doesn't break any ground. There are occasional moments of picture clarity and detail, but they're few and far between. Blacks are inconsistent throughout the film, a disappointment since a lot of what transpires occurs at night or in clubs. Flesh tones are reproduced well, but on the flip side there's a lack of background depth and dimension to this recently shot film. It's better than a standard definition release, but not even worth spending the extra money for Blu-ray.The Sound:
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is just as accurate and straightforward as the video, with some improvements when the club/band scenes are on. Dialogue sounds decent but doesn't stay consistently balanced through the film, and surround effects and speaker panning is relatively quiet. The subwoofer does pick up during said club action, but those are the only scenes that have any real punch to them. With independent films, you get what you pay for, I suppose.Extras:
A behind-the-scenes featurette (8:41) features the cast sharing their thoughts on what drew them to the material, including the Cassavettes/Ashby influences that Channing and Hutton cite as reasons for doing it. They also talk about where they all were in 1979 and how cool it is to shoot in New York. Moving on, there are separate interview segments with the cast (and Branch) as they talk more in-depth about the film (34:08). You probably could have dropped the featurette for these segments, to be honest. The film's trailer (2:32) closes the disc out.Final Thoughts:
Multiple Sarcasms is a decent idea and even has a decent performance here and there, but the story tends to wallow in complacency. As far as a Blu-ray disc goes I wouldn't even hint that this is a reference disc, and from the bonus perspective it's on the boring side. I'd save time (and money) for more compelling material.