The movie is a sharp suggestion that we take ourselves far too seriously, that we reason the love right out of our lives.


A Illusion review by Joan Ellis.

"The publicity release for "Flirt" sums it up: " 'Flirt' is the same story set in three different places and told in three different ways; an exploration of the universal themes of commitment, betrayal, indecision, catching a plane, losing a lover, and getting shot in the face." That's it. That's the movie, and that's Hal Hartley.

He has made an extremely funny and provocative statement about personal commitment as a global condition, and he has made it in bold, direct language and colors. The colors, even in the Tokyo night, are strong and clear, and the story is presented with stark clarity by American, German, and Japanese actors in Los Angeles, Berlin, and Tokyo. By keeping his script spare, Hartley shines the spotlight on his chosen themes with an economy of words, the better for us to ponder them.

The script is superbly superficial, a wonderfully comic statement that we humans usually reduce big themes to simple terms. When we're surprised, words fail us altogether. Mired in indecision, Hartley's characters beg others to make their decisions for them. They look at their dilemmas through a magnifying lens, making each decision far bigger than it need be, talking each one to death in the absence of ability to take action. Maybe the problem will go away, or at least solve itself.

Bill (Bill Sage) is comfortable in his lack of commitment to Emily (Parker Posey). Maybe there's something better out there, maybe he can have it all. In the 90 minutes she gives him to make his commitment to her as she leaves for Paris, Bill explores his options, gets shot in the face, and ends up in the hands of the most indecisive emergency room doctor this side of hell.

Desperate for help with his decision, Bill finds it in the men's room from a trio of toilet stall philosophers, who discuss his situation with hilarious self-absorption. And so it goes in Berlin, where a group of construction hard hats addresses Dwight's dilemma with utter gravity: "To flirt is to exist in ambiguity; we can't exist in ambiguity forever." And so it is in Tokyo with Miho, who is jailed for gun possession and receives wise and comic counsel from a marvelous trio of cellmates.

In a world where everyone tries to make decisions of the heart with reason, love and passion are lost in triviality. Someone always asks, "Is there a future for us?" Can a flirt ever stop wanting more time or more proof?

The movie is sharply suggests that we take ourselves far too seriously, that we reason the love right out of our lives. It hands us the comforting remedy of perspective by reminding us, three times over, that everything we have ever said, done, or thought of doing has been done a thousand times in our own and other languages. A flirt is a flirt is a flirt.

Film Critic : JOAN ELLIS
Word Count : 489
Studio : True Fiction Pictures
Rating : NR
Running Time: 1h25m

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