July 9 2013 – Awkward sex on film, no matter what form it takes, has always been comedic fodder throughout the ages. When oafish Marc (John Lucas) asks for pointers on his sexual performance, it becomes fertile ground for a filter-less backlash as Mimi (Sasha Ramos) serves it up hot and heavy a la mode. Such is the opening scene as sassy man-eater Mimi verbally eviscerates Cialis poster boy and quinquagenarian in this black comedy mashup, Quite A Conundrum.
Free spirited twenty-something children of privilege, Mimi and Tabitha, (Erin Cline) have the world by the tail as their verbal gymnastics heavily peppered with the latest pop cultural references and short hand, taps into the youthful Zeitgeist of the day. Just as Judd Apatow has garnered accolades for becoming the comedic voice of a new generation, writer / director, Thomas L. Phillips has definitely made a case that they need to make room at the top, as he poison pens some of the most joustful dark comedic banter in years. This is the foundation upon which this kaleidoscope of chaos is based.
After summarily dismissing Marc during a morning throw and giving little sis Kylene (Emily Rogers) some sage life skills advice, Mimi quickly segways into pool party mode as she preps with her BFF Tabs for an evening of sex and more sex with boy toys Sean (Chris Greene) and Dutch (Joe Coffey). Liberal helpings of liquid courage add extra zing to the already escalating spicy dialogue. The pre-party scene stealing turn by Thelma (Catherine Trail), as the theologically unglued overbearing bible mother of her socially neutered son Harris (Anthony Rutowicz) is a thing of beauty. Trail transcends every fibre of her character as she conjures up references to the devils playground with glorious conviction. When scorned interloper Marc crashes the backyard blowout in his rubenesque birthday suit, the party shifts into overdrive as heated confrontations turns deadly.
Resolutions are never easy and Phillips doesn’t cop out by pulling the parachute early with a lame Disney-esque landing. Instead he weaves into the narrative a labyrinth of sub plots crafting a whodunit twist with even more black comedy. Revealing anymore would morph this review into spoiler alert territory and Quite A Conundrum with its indie pedigree is well worth savouring on screen.
Verdict: 4 / 5: Big budget Hollywood studios continue to churn out lukewarm offerings of A-list friendly actors with comedic leanings, inevitably leading to more box-office regret. This broken formula is a recipe for flavourless pabulum heavy yawns and two hours you’ll never get back. What many screenwriters forget to realize and what Phillips bakes into the DNA of this little charmer is, first and foremost, introspective biting dialogue that peels back the layers of contemporary youthful angst in a way that doesn’t insult your intelligence. What it lacks in blood and budget it most certainly makes up for in character and sass. It goes without saying, that a hormone charged twenty-something booze and sex romp fest will come with the requisite amount of body parts and bodily fluids on display. That being said, Quite A Conundrum is a thoroughly enjoyable black comedy that proves it is possible to make a beguiling little feature, bounty heavy with wit and witticisms without pandering to formulaic trickery.
Karma, in all its privileged trappings is still a bitch.
Genre: Comedy / Suspense
Release Date: 2012
Director: Thomas L. Phillips
Writer: Thomas L Phillips
DOP: John Powers, Thomas L. Phillips
Producer(s): Catherine Marcus, Gold Lion Films
Runtime: 82 minutes
Cast: Sasha Ramos, Erin Cline, Emily Rogers, Anthony Rutowicz, Joe Coffey, Chris Greene, Catherine Trail, Julianna Pitt, John Lucas