Director : James Toback
With : Robert Downey, Jr., Natasha Gregson Wagner, Heather Graham
If you just picked up the box, recognized the cast and then read the brief plot synopsis you’d probably have prepared yourself for a much different movie than the one you saw. More a “filmed play” than a movie, “Two Girls and a Guy” has one of those razor sharp, David Mamet meets Hal Hartley sensibilities where the characters deliver sharp measured dialogue back and forth throughout the entire movie. In a way the language sounds a bit forced and unrealistic, but that’s also part of the charm, believing that people actually could maintain such interesting, articulate and probing conversations.
Beginning with the film’s first scene where you meet a Carla (Graham) and Lou (Wagner) while they are both waiting on a SoHo stoop for the same boyfriend, you can tell that this will not be your standard romantic comedy. After a comical exchange with an odd passerby, the two figure out that, inevitably, they have been “used” by Downey like real-life acting roles for him to perform one of life’s most difficult roles – being in love. If this were a Hollywood film, this would be the end and not the beginning, but thankfully its not. Instead the girls break into Downey’s “trust-funded” loft and hide out waiting for him to return.
The threesome spends the night getting drunk and interrogating each other into the dark recesses of that self-absorbed twenty-something self-doubt.
For people who haven’t seen Downey’s appearances in “Short Cuts,” “Chaplin,” “In Dreams,” and “Restoration” you might only think of him as the hipster drug addict less better known for his mugshots than screenshots. That is, actually, a wild misconception. I would argue that Downey is actually one of the best young actors in Hollywood. He has both the ability to convey a supreme screen intensity, mixed with an originality, that most people just seem to lack. Never to be described as a character actor, Downey’s weird manipulative performance helps draw out the some excellent showing from Graham and Gregson-Wagner. This film is a cool, intelligent piece about a scenario that you can only dream about getting yourself into.