A festival hit, "XX/XY" seemed like it was going to hit big, given all the discussion surrounding it and it's subject matter. However, the film came and went quietly, garnering good reviews, but getting little in the way of advertising or audience. The film itself, a low-key drama that offers some insights here and there, is a respectable debut from director Austin Chick, but there's nothing about it that I really found stood out.
The film stars Mark Ruffalo as Coles Burroughs, a film student who walks into a party and starts chatting up Sam (Maya Stange), a girl who he'd been watching in the subway earlier that day. He proposes a trip back to his room. She proposes bringing a friend - her roommate, Thea (Kathleen Robertson). Despite the fact that being with two attractive women sounds like an interesting way to spend an evening, the trio's time in bed turns into problems when feelings are hurt. Thea becomes left out, the immature Coles cheats and doesn't understand the hurt it causes and eventually, the three go their separate ways.
Years later, Coles meets up with his former female friends. Coles has become a successful animator and is in a relationship with Claire. Sam has broken off from a relationship, while Thea is with a restaurant owner. Will the sparks between Coles and Sam fly once again? The problem is that I really wasn't too interested, either way.
"XX/XY" doesn't have a great deal to say about relationships (there is some witty dialogue, though - I liked when a fan asked Ruffalo's director character for his money back after seeing one of his movies), but I liked the performances. Ruffalo (who looks kinda like Jason Patric at times here) once again shows that he can do well with average material. For those who were turned off by the advertisements, he was actually quite good with Gwyneth Paltrow in "View From the Top" earlier this year. Of course, he's also quite good in the role that first gained him notice, in "You Can Count On Me". Maya Stange isn't someone who I'm familiar with, but she offers a captivating performance here, with great eyes and a nice portrayal of the hurt the character feels. Kathleen Robertson is fine as well in a somewhat more limited role. The three need to offer good performances, as I wouldn't - and really still kinda didn't - have believed that these two attractive, seemingly intelligent women would be interested in someone like Coles.
Obviously low-budget fare, director Austin Chick generally takes advantage of what he has. There are a couple too many slo-mo shots in the picture, but there's a lot of really beautiful and almost poetic compositions, especially a few shots of Stange that really help to illustrate how the character feels. The lighting is low-key, often warm and natural. The movie's got a funky, soft look and feel that's strangely involving to watch. "XX/XY" is one of those films where the characters really aren't sympathetic or that engaging, but there's a mood about the movie and the performances kept my interest.
VIDEO: "XX/XY" is presented by MGM in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture is very good, considering the material. With the film's low-light situations and cinematography, the picture can occasionally appear noticably soft. Some low-light scenes can show mediocre shadow detail, although that's probably how the film has always looked. Usually though, definition is satisfactory.
Aside from the noticable softness at times, the picture appeared otherwise pleasing. No edge enhancement was spotted, no pixelation or other artifacts were seen and the print was in very fine condition. Colors seemed warm and accurately rendered, with no flaws.
SOUND: The 2.0 soundtrack is almost entirely dialogue-driven, with minimal score here and there. Audio quality seemed pretty good; dialogue was recorded well and remained crisp.
EXTRAS: The film's trailer.
Final Thoughts: This is an indie drama that doesn't have characters who are terribly involving. However, it's got a certain charm and mood, and the performances are good. Those interested should check it out as a rental.