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Originally published Thursday, August 7, 2014 at 3:05 PM

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It’s ‘About Alex,’ but Sarah steals show in friend drama

A movie review of “About Alex,” an uneven, well-cast drama about a group of college friends who reunite for a weekend after one of them attempts suicide. It got 2.5 stars out of 4.


Special to The Seattle Times

Movie Review ★★½  

‘About Alex,’ with Aubrey Plaza, Max Greenfield, Jason Ritter. Written and directed by Jesse Zwick. 96 minutes. Rated R for language and drug use. Sundance Cinemas (21+).

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It may be called “About Alex,” but this uneven, well-cast drama about reunited college friends fails to satisfy as a portrait of its suicidal title character (Jason Ritter).

It’s more effective as a study of Alex’s longtime pal, Sarah (Aubrey Plaza), who has self-esteem issues, especially when she’s forced to share close quarters with former lover Josh (Max Greenfield), who gets the blame for her unhappy sexual history.

The despondent Alex slit his wrists but managed to call the hospital in time. He left a bloody mess in the bathtub of his home, and no one has bothered to clean it up — which means that the friends are confronted with the carnage each time someone has to use the bathroom.

Couldn’t someone have cleaned it up? Or found another way of minimizing the impact? Right from the beginning, everyone’s walking on eggs, uncertain about what to say, when or how to crack a joke (some of the gallows humor is pretty funny), when to confront Alex with what they see as a betrayal of their bond.

While the script tries hard to re-create the feeling of such 1980s classics as “The Big Chill” and “Return of the Secaucus Seven,” only Plaza’s performance as the troubled Sarah comes close to creating a three-dimensional character.

Near the end, first-time writer-director Jesse Zwick (son of “Glory” director Edward Zwick) throws in a flashback that captures the group at their first meeting at a school cafeteria. The attempt at instant nostalgia almost works, but it’s a little late.

John Hartl: johnhartl@yahoo.com



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