Just One Time

In 1998, Lane Janger directed a six-minute short called Just One Time about a couple on the brink of marriage who face
trouble when the man asks his bride-to-be to fulfill his fantasies by having sex with another woman. A year later, Janger
expanded this idea into a full-length feature with the same name. After playing the festival circuit, the film is now receiving a
theatrical release.

The plot is pretty much the same. Anthony (Janger), a New York City fireman, is engaged to straight-laced lawyer Amy
(Joelle Carter), but before their nuptials, he begins pressuring her to help dispel his sexual fantasy of her with another
woman. As expected, Amy isn't too thrilled with the idea until one day when she surprisingly agrees, but with one condition.
She gets Anthony to swear that he will agree to do whatever she suggests, thus "tricking" him into agreeing to having sex with
another man. Sure that he won't go through with his end of the deal, Amy thinks she's off the hook. To her horror, though,
Anthony sets out to do what he swore to do.

Amy's pal Victor (Guillermo Diaz) has harbored a crush on Anthony and Victor agrees to spend the night with Anthony,
provided they go out on a date. Anthony seeks support from his buddies at work, including Dom (David Lee Russek), and
the group of five guys set out for a night on the town. In true "only-in-the-movies" fashion, Anthony and his buddies managed
to relax and lose their homophobia after a couple of drinks at a gay dance club.

Since it looks as though her fiancé is going through with his end, Amy decides to explore lesbianism. After a foiled attempt to
join a discussion group at a bookstore, she seeks out Victor's friend Michelle (Jennifer Esposito), an out lesbian who makes
a living restoring old furniture. After imbibing alcohol, Amy too loosens up and flirts with Michelle. When Anthony and
Victor arrive home to consummate their date, the fireman spots Amy in Michelle's apartment across the street and instead of
being elated, he makes a decision that could spell the end for the couple.

Janger clearly was trying to forge a modern screwball comedy but the end result falls way short of that mark. Not that the
film is an unmitigated disaster, it's just problematic. The flimsy premise that this man in love would risk it all to realize a
fantasy doesn't carry the dramatic weight the writers (Janger and Jennifer Vandever) seem to think it does. The breezy tone
they adopt actually works to undermine whatever tension they hoped to create.

Janger, a producer with such indies as
I Like It Like That to his credit, is quite believable as the somewhat chauvinistic
Anthony. He has a nice eye as a director, capturing the flavor of life on NYC's East Village and elicits some nice work from
his actors. Joelle Carter makes the most of her difficult role as the buttoned-up Amy while Jennifer Esposito offers a nice
turn as the forceful Michelle. Guillermo Diaz seems to overplay his character's eager beaver attitude at first but gradually
tones it down to limn a portrait of an insecure young man simply looking for love.
Just One Time doesn't quite achieve its
modest ambitions but it isn't a total disgrace either.

                               Rating:                       C-
                               MPAA Rating:           NONE
                               Running time:             124 mins.
© 2005 by C. E. Murphy. All Rights Reserved.