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Raleigh, I Kinda Like You indie film review

★★

Directed by: #TorRamsey

Written by: Tor Ramsey

 

A poster for the film featuring a backdrop of Raleigh, NC. In the center is a coaster bearing the name of the film, surrounding it are screen grabs from the film featuring the ensemble cast.

A collection of romantic comedy vignettes that at times feels like a shoddy patchwork of Jim Jarmusch’s Coffee and Cigarettes and a Gary Marshall ensembles like Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve. Though lacking the artistry or pageantry of either, Tor Ramsey’s idiosyncratic exploration of love and relationships in Raleigh, I Kinda Like You does have amusing narratives that play up familiar milestones. A group of friends led by Mr Ramsey drink, smoke, and share tales of bizarre anecdotes of romantic courtship: blind dates, meeting the parents, engagements, but all with a twist. Ramsey’s script takes the typical route of these moments but then puts through the wringer with maddening excitement. Initially taking form in fast-paced screwball comedy banter as the actors barb back and forth, but the latter half of the film delves into more surreal ideas and meta fourth wall breaks.


I was definitely more in favour of the earlier stories with my favourite being the second. A man proposing to his girlfriend with a family heirloom engagement ring, then having his new fiancee sign several convoluted contracts which ensure the ring shall be returned in case the marriage doesn’t work out, every hypothetical gamed out by the man’s mother. It’s that type of kooky energy that makes the introductory stories engaging and funny, even possible to distract from the poor filmmaking but after a while, the novelty wears off. This feature is built upon Tor Ramsey’s short film of the same name but there doesn’t appear to be enough gas in the tank to take this concept full length, despite Ramsey’s ideas in the latter segments. These stories are loosely connected through the conversational interludes but Raleigh, I Kinda Like You doesn’t give the audience a satisfying denouement.


Though that lack of a resolution wasn’t what made Raleigh, I Kinda Like You a difficult two hours to watch. Many scenes take place in bars and restaurants around Raleigh, North Carolina and you get a sense of Ramsey’s affection for the city in the establishing shot montages. I’ve been to Raleigh, I had a blast there and I was trying to see if I recognised any of the spots Ramsey’s film drops into. But being in actual bars and restaurants leads this film to have an atrocious sound design that at times made it impossible to decipher what the characters were saying. It comes and goes but when it does, it shatters the thin immersion the film has over you and what’s originally endearingly amateur just feels incompetent. Spikes in volume, overbearing music, trying to drown out background noise really affects the rhythm Ramsey wants to establish with the screwball banter in most of the stories. Camera work at times also suffers, but I can appreciate Ramsey’s attempts to make the film visually interesting in the latter half.


The whole ensemble delivers their characters well, there’s no real weak point but no breakout either but as with the rest of the film the material of the first hour is stronger than the second. Raleigh, I Kinda Like You’s quirky energy ebbs and flows during the runtime but Ramsey's love of Raleigh, romance, and comedy can only go so far. It’s not enough to keep you invested and eventually it feels like Ramsey is trying every last trick he can to reach the finish line.

 

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