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Roger Dodger | Review

Social Lubricant

Kidd’s talkie feature is surprisingly witty.

You’ll find them lurking on single women in bars at closing time, like parasites they hit on you at social parties and will scheme their way into getting better field of visions of cleavages and panty lines. Written and directed by newcomer Dylan Kidd comes this dialogue driven film about a man with a slick tongue and sharp wit who applies it to his arsenal of seduction and supremacy over others, but when it comes down to it he gets some lessons of his own from the most unlikeliest of candidates. Roger Dodger is hardly a picture that should be among anyone’s first choice of entertainment; this is a small picture just right for repertoire-friendly cinemas and will attract audiences that don’t mind intellect jargon mixed.

Opening up with a lunch break conversation between co-workers, Roger (Campbell Scott-The Spanish Prisoner) is the head speaker at the centre of a Reservoir Dog-like conversation. His explanation of the finer points of the future of male procreation says a lot about the ad copywriter by day Casanova by night. “Thinking up ways to make people feel bad” is not just a slogan for him but a way of life- he is the sort of person who would make a good friend with the famous pair of LaBute’s In the Company of Men. Roger becomes agitated by the final chapter in his after-hours relationship with his boss- (Isabella Rossellini-Big Night) and it shows in his almost vindictive nature when he gracefully tells complete strangers who they are as people. Into the décor comes a surprise visit from his teenage nephew Nick (Jesse Eisenberg-The Emperor’s Club)-who is curious about woman-pull up your socks-it’s time for training camp.

“Sex is everywhere”, proclaims this cynical New Yorker-Roger is the dearly sarcastic shallow protagonist who proclaims that his batting average would be the best in the major leagues shows the way of conduct to his younger male companion-the night is young and so is his nephew’s mind. Kidd gets us up close into the conversations, the debates with by adding a level of intimacy with his up-close camerawork, which at times is outwardly annoyingly. It is enjoyable to watch this character or listen to his sharp tongue-Scott plays his role with an intelligential etiquette, allowing him to literally dodge the true reflection in the mirror. The presence of Jennifer Beals-as the potential girl to break out the young man’s virginity plays a very delightful, compassionate character making me almost wish that I could bump into her one day. Behind the darker elements, this film contains some genuine chipper and oddly funny moments and overall Roger Dodger won’t disappoint those who don’t mind this kind of comedy-noir diversion. An interesting debut, not bad for a kidd.

Rating 2.5 stars

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at IONCINEMA.com, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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