Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Movie with Abe: Modern Persuasion

Modern Persuasion
Directed by Alex Appel and Jonathan Lisecki
Released December 18, 2020 (VOD)

Balancing work and romance isn’t always easy. That’s especially true if there’s a lack of separation between the two, forcing personal and professional lines to be blurred. Large companies often have concrete policies that forbid relationships between employees or at least require that they be officially documented in order to prevent potential conflicts of interest. That isn’t always the case, and it’s hard to predict what will happen when people start spending time together or have the opportunity to be reintroduced in an altogether different setting than the one in which they first became familiar.

Wren (Alicia Witt) is a determined hard worker who has done well for herself, earning the respect of the colleagues who run her company, Maxine (Jenn Harris) and Grayson (Mark Moses). She is startled when a new account brings in Owen (Shane McRae), a man from her past, and she is forced to work directly with him. Set on not sharing her connection with him with anyone and unsure if he even fully remembers her, Wren tries to focus on the task at hand while facing many distractions, including his charming CFO (Dominic Rains) and another suitor (Chris O’Shea) hand-picked by her protective aunt (Bebe Neuwirth).

As this film’s title suggests, it’s a present-day update of “Persuasion,” the 1817 novel by Jane Austen. Interestingly, it’s set in current times but doesn’t lean too heavily on new technology like text messaging or social media, but instead only finds Wren frantically Googling for pictures to remind herself of what she knows to be true. The modernity invoked might instead refer to a same-sex relationship one of the partners has and the way in which personal lives are extremely public within a small company with multiple intersecting romances.

Not everything about this film works, but it benefits from having a web of connected characters that all interact in different ways, both platonically and romantically. Witt and McRae have decent chemistry, but there are also a number of other players set up for possible trysts who do well together. Within a talented cast, Liza Lapira and Adrienne C. Moore are particularly memorable in smaller parts as high-energy additions to the office environment. This film is fun but also fleeting, traveling a familiar and often-explored narrative without offering anything substantially new or innovative in its approach. It’s a perfectly decent if relatively forgettable romantic comedy.


No comments: