37: A Final Promise (NR)
Drama December 31, 1969
Mining sympathy for such a character is difficult but not impossible: Stephen Dorff, reportedly director and co-writer Batinkoff's original choice for the lead, pulled it off with Sofia Coppola in Somewhere. But 37 has neither that movie's unaffected portrayal of a celebrity milieu (a drunk Penelope Allen shouting on the sidewalk seems a strange way to establish Adam's fame), nor its wise preference for small moments of insight over heightened, blown-up drama.
Sadly, much of what transpires in 37 is inspired by actual events: Batinkoff and co-screenwriter Jesse Stratton adapted the material from How Angels Die, a memoir by Guy Blews. But Batinkoff's inexperience as a filmmaker — he's a veteran actor making his directorial debut — keeps that authenticity from shining through. Hurried, unconvincing dips into subjectivity — largely involving Adam's visions of a little boy whose identity is eventually revealed — clash with uncertain bursts of style, as in a driving scene in which the bizarre variety of angles makes no dramatic or logical sense. The writing is likewise lacking in conviction: symbolic digressions are awkwardly integrated into Adam and Jemma's conversations, and there's a painfully wrongheaded moment when a doctor (Leon Robinson), after diagnosing Jemma with a terminal illness, states, "At least this entitles you to the good stuff."