In the first moments of Loitering with Intent we learn that Dominic (Michael Godere) and Raphael (Ivan Martin) are struggling actor-writer types, working at a New York City bar to survive and grasping at any straws to gain footing in a world they are clearly infatuated with. A friend in the industry soon reveals the opportunity that $300,000 might be made available to shoot their noir screenplay, from a producer looking to earn some tax credits. The only problem is that they actually haven’t written a page, let alone a single character, so the pair jettison off to upstate New York (seemingly the only available location for an indie of this ilk) in an attempt to conquer the task in the provided 10-day time limit.

As one can predict, distractions abound with Dominic’s erratic sister Gigi (Marisa Tomei) unexpectedly coming back to her home they are temporarily residing in. Arriving in a drunken stupor, we realize she’s recovering from a recent spat with her significant other, the stern ex-special forces veteran Wayne (Sam Rockwell), who shortly makes his own entrance. This is not long after they meet Ava (Isabelle McNally), a striking friend of Gigi’s who is staying on the property, alluring and diverting Dominic and Raphael, but mostly the latter, as they try their best to figure our the exact film they want to make.

Directed fairly inconspicuously by Adam RappLoitering with Intent is the sort of well-meaning, small-scale drama about the creative method that feels too obviously plotted and conventionally scripted (courtesy of Godere and Martin themselves) to achieve any genuine truths regarding the process. Thankfully, a likable ensemble is gathered, with the various relationships on display achieving engaging chemistry.

Throwing a welcome comedic bone into the mix is Wayne’s surfer brother Devon (Brian Geraghty), who recently got a reality TV show deal from Jerry Bruckheimer on a whim, further irking Raphael. With an affable aloofness not on display in his previous performance, Geraghty provides much-needed energy as Rapp drifts further away from the central meta-narrative of tackling the script.

As the ill-suited references to Ingmar Bergman and Sweet Smell of Success are thrown around, the notion that Intent would be better off discarding this plot thread altogether becomes more and more apparent. While one can understand there needs to be motivation for our leading duo to stay at the film’s central location, when Rockwell and Tomei are on screen (neither of which have an ounce to do with the main narrative), the film becomes increasingly dynamic thanks to their talented presence.

As the conflict surrounding Dominic and Raphael’s characters comes to a head — with both the latter’s fondness for Gigi (his former girlfriend) and the creative struggles between the two — Rapp effectively builds to a worthwhile climax without bringing anything new to the table. While the lead-up could have been more focused, Loitering with Intent is mildly pleasing dramedy that proves a gifted supporting cast can do wonders for a modest production.

Loitering With Intent premiered at Tribeca Film Festival.

Grade: C

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