Saturday, March 27, 2010

Movie with Abe: Lbs.

Directed by Matthew Bonifacio
Released March 26, 2010

The story of a 300-pound man whose obsessive eating causes enormous problems for more people than just himself is bound to be either an inspirational film or a depressing film. “Lbs,” the new movie that serves as the debut (at the time of its original premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004) of actor and co-writer Carmine Famiglietti, isn’t quite sure what message it wants to send, and that’s hardly the only subject on which the movie is unclear. There’s little cohesion and plenty of trite elements to be found in “Lbs.” and the good doesn’t come close to outweigh the bad.

“Lbs.” presents an intriguing premise about a man who realizes that he needs to make a big change in his life but may not have the strength or energy to do it. For a number of reasons, it doesn’t follow through on its promise or potential. Its portrait of an excessively Italian family in Brooklyn downing pasta with meatballs at every turn paves the way for cartoonish fantasy sequences where main character Neil imagines indulging in carbohydrate-heavy delights. The film takes way too long in setting itself up and then devotes lengthy, mundane sequences to showing its protagonist exiling himself to the woods, and not nearly enough time is spent analyzing where the film and its character have gotten by the end.

There are many ups and downs in “Lbs,” which includes Neil’s weight, but overall there are far more downs. The film is ripe with familiar and trodden plot points without anywhere near enough originality. Bizarre choices of cinematography and editing add to the conception that this isn’t a terribly polished or well-produced project. Neil is an interesting character to a point, but overall, he’s not dynamic enough to carry a film. Two of the actresses in the film do turn in impressive performances that are a cut above the rest. Miriam Shor, recently seen as a sexually repressed 1970s housewife on “Swingtown,” has no trouble opening up as one of Neil’s lone friends out in the country, and brightens the otherwise lackluster scenes set outside of Brooklyn. Sharon Angela, who played mafia wife Rosalie Aprile on “The Sopranos,” once again nails the Italian prima donna character but also makes her considerably more complex than the script sets her out to be. There is much lacking in “Lbs.” and not enough weight behind it to make it worth undertaking.


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