Starcrossed (NR)

May 13, 2016
By Ernest Hardy
If an implausible scenario is finely enough executed, viewers' willingness to suspend disbelief will kick in and they'll go almost anywhere the filmmaker takes them. Writer-director Chase Mohseni isn't nimble enough a director to finesse his overwrought setup: A wealthy, middle-aged married couple who are each having an affair bump into their respective younger lovers in a bar after the side-pieces first meet-cute and end up on an impromptu date. Kat (Mischa Barton) and Ben (Grant Harvey) are the young couple; Anthony (Ben Reed) and Lucy (Kristin Carey) are the unhappily married duo. Inexplicably, the quartet makes its way to Anthony and Lucy's home for a nightcap. From the start, everyone seems to immediately figure out what's going on, but they each guard their own secrets while attempting to get the others to spill theirs.

It all suggests a dated chamber piece anemically adapted from stage to film. There's a lot of heavy-handed, stilted dialogue and pregnant pauses as characters trade their turns as cat or mouse, and the actors all strain to project meaning. None of it sparks dramatic tension, not even when Kat darkly tells Ben that her fantasy is "to die young." There's a storm, a blackout, lapses in logic that span universes and Eric Roberts, who shows up as a man whose relationship to one character triggers a stream of revelations that pushes the whole thing toward a forced tragedy that's still as inert as all that came before it.

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