A lot of Hollywood romantic comedies unfold in worlds that are virtually unrecognizable from the real one, where couples meet in strange fashion and relationships often overlap in messy ways. Writer-director J.C. Khoury’s engaging The Pill, which just enjoyed its world premiere at the 14th annual Dances With Films festival, is thankfully not one of those efforts.
The movie centers around Fred (Noah Bean, Rose Byrne’s murdered fiancé on Damages), a New Yorker who hooks up with the free-spirited Mindy (Rachel Boston, above right), has pleasantly drunken but unfortunately unprotected sex, wakes up, and then spends a madcap day trying to avoid his girlfriend Nelly (Anna Chlumsky) and stick to his one-night stand, in order to make sure she takes the two-installment morning-after pill that will help prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Claiming first that she “knows her body,” and later that the birth control pill is against her religious beliefs (“the one with the Pope”), Mindy is a grab-bag of resistance and whirling dervish energy, keeping Fred on his heels and making his quest mainly a furtive one, under the guise of striking up a more serious relationship. Dragged to a family party, Fred gets to meet Mindy’s parents (Jean Brassard and Lue McWilliams), as well as her engaged younger sister Rose (Gossip Girl‘s Dreama Walker), and ex-boyfriend Jim (Al Thompson). Slowly, Fred finds himself more attracted to Mindy in unexpected ways, complicating his problematic and possibly flickering relationship with Nelly.
The Pill‘s compressed timeline, and its conflict with New York City’s geographical realities, offers some opportunity for pin-prick critical deflation, but there’s a pleasant, forward-leaning energy to the entire film that mitigates this. This isn’t gritty and wildly insightful, or reinventing the wheel, but Khoury is honest about the varied and jumbled emotions of his characters, and lets them make/have made some dubious choices without judging them or bending over backwards to try to explain and justify everything. The Pill is reflective of the realities of the twenty- and even early-thirtysomething dating scene, in which people mean well but often find their attempts at monogamy tested in unexpected ways. For the full, original review, from ShockYa, click here. (Shoot First Entertainment, unrated, 83 minutes)