Dir: Zachary Yoshioka
Starring: Erin Rowe, Kim Milbrandt, Matt Kaczmarek, Ryan Liss

Warning...warning...relationship movie alert... Was more than a little disturbed to discover Ballistic Entertainment's new film was inspired by Yoshioka's personal disasters, fearing a trawl through maudlin self-pity for 90 minutes. Fortunately, no such entity emerged - for one thing, this film is barely half that length (credit to Ballistic for not feeling constrained to full features), and for another, it's largely tongue-in-cheek, as is shown by the director's cameo as a guy obsessing over "huge tits".

The structure is loose; three interlinking stories of failed relationships in a circle of friends. It's another brave move to throw plot out the window, relying on characters and dialogue to keep us interested, and for most of the time, this works. It takes a while to get into the film, not least because the female characters initially look, act and sound alike. As the movie develops, though, it hits its stride: highlights include a delightfully mad rant on Girls' Nights Out, and some sharp crosscut between guy-talk and gal-talk. The dialogue is definitely sharper than last time, perhaps because there's less need for exposition here, and also because I suspect large chunks were carved on the writers' hearts by the rusty bread-knife of bitter personal experience.

Running through my head almost continually was Chicks Suck/Guys Suck, by another rising Phoenix talent, The Strand - its self-mocking, equal opportunity misogyny/misanthropy would have been spot-on for the film. But Yoshioka makes good use of sound anyway, and interestingly, near-silence too, especially for those painful moments when a character's world comes crashing down around them. Special mentions for Liss, seen in the out-takes saying, "You gotta slap me harder than that" - he gets his wish - and the now-traditional Ballistic lip-synchathon at the end, this time to the Friends theme, complete with paddling in fountains. It probably counts as indulgent, like much of the movie, but it's all done with such enthusiasm you can't help applaud it.


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