Besotted


          The dictionary defines the word "besot" as infatuate and secondarily as to make dull or
    stupid, especially by drunkenness. Both those definitions can be (and indeed are) applied to the
    character of Shep, a former fisherman turned town souse, in the anti-romantic feature
Besotted.
    The film marks the directorial debut of actress Holly Angell Hardman, who also undertakes the
    role of a modern-day sorceress. There are intriguing premises at the heart of the film, but
    unfortunately Hardman makes numerous judgmental errors that eventually turn the movie into a
    mishmash.

            Hardman's idea was to explore issue of the role of fate in life and by casting herself (the
    director) as the magical presence who moves figurines representative of the three major figures in
    a love triangle around the board, she purports to be examining how a director may also
    manipulate actors. Again, the germ of the idea is present, but the execution is sloppy at best.

            The love triangle at the heart of Besotted revolves around a female lobster boat captain,
    Vicky (Susan Gibney), the aforementioned Shep (painter and sometime performer Jim Chiros)
    and Damien (Liam Waite), the preppy Harvard B-School student Vicky hires for the summer as a
    mate. There's some back story to which oblique reference is made: Vicky herself was a summer
    resident before dropping anchor and earning her living on the ocean.

            When she first arrived and was a golden girl, she caught the attention of Shep, but
    somehow it didn't work out and he sought solace in beer, selling off his uncle's gun collection
    one rifle at a time in order to fund his habit. Damien is merely passing through and, though he
    has no experience as a fisherman (and inxplicably thinks it's a great way to earn a large amount
    of quick cash), Vicky consents to give him a try. Her interest in the attractive young man is clearly
    more than as his employer. Indeed, early in the film, after a rather successful haul, Vicky and
    Damien get drunk and end up back at her place. When he calls a halt to their lovemaking,
    claiming he had too much to drink, Vicky is devastated. It's just possible that a) the kid had an
    epiphany and realized that sleeping with his boss wasn't such a great idea, b) he wanted to remain
    faithful to his attractive girlfriend, or c) some combination thereof. But the screenplay gives no
    motivation and more or less drops the matter, although Vicky continues to harbor feelings for the guy.

          Indeed, the script, which attempts to incorporate magic realism and an homage to Truffaut
    cannot bear the weight. The world created by Hardman in her screenplay isn't consistent. It
    doesn't have to be realistic, but there has to be a through arc for the characters. The
    tone here veers so wildly that the audience quickly loses interest.

                  Chiros is a fascinating screen presence and he attempts to create a memorable character,
    despite the lack of material in the script. Gibney struggles to make something of her part, but the
    role is so ill-defined that she is defeated. (She is also subjected to a completely unnecessary full
    nude scene; if the film were directed by a male, it would be even more heinous.) Waite is a
    lightweight presence. As the sorceress, Hardman the actress is a better director; as a director,
    well let's just say that Betty Thomas, Kathryn Bigelow and Jane Campion won't be looking over
    their shoulders.

                  
Besotted takes something that could have been unique and bobbles it badly. It's not
    exactly the worst movie ever made, but it's a contender for a list of misfires.



  
                                    
Rating:                                   D
                            MPAA Rating:                 NONE
© 2005 by C.E. Murphy. All Right Reserved.