“Match” On DVD: Based On Stephen Belber’s Play

Is Stephen Belber‘s Match, newly available on DVD, a match for your movie-viewing interests? Per IMDB: “As a Juilliard professor is interviewed by a woman and her husband for her dissertation on the history of dance in 1960’s New York, it becomes increasingly clear that there are ulterior motives to the couple’s visit.”

Robert Abele, Los Angeles Times: “At the heart of writer-director Stephen Belber’s ‘Match,’ a three-character drama based on his 2004 play, is a magisterial portrait of flamboyant loneliness by Patrick Stewart.”

Carla Gugino and Matthew Lillard play the couple, Lisa and Mike. The trailer:

As writer/director Belber adapted this film from his own play, the critics tend to weigh in on whether it translates well from one medium to the other. Opinions vary. For instance:

Glenn Kenny, rogerebert.com: “’Match,’ though occasionally affecting, feels firmly stagebound — and probably worked better there.”

David Ehrlich, Time Out: “Ideally, you shouldn’t be able to tell that a movie you’re watching had been first written as a play. While it’s a safe enough assumption to make of any super chatty film that spends the brunt of its running time in a single room with a small handful of characters, the origins of Stephen Belber’s Match…are only so obvious because he directs it like someone who doesn’t realize why that’s a problem.”

Peter Debruge, Variety: “In the film, Belber resolves a mystery left ambiguous at the end of the play, which makes for a more satisfying conclusion while still leaving many provocative questions for audiences to work out…”

Whereas There’s Some Criticism of the Plot…

For example, Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times: “Every reversal arrives programmatically, as if driven by a mere need for twists, while Stephen Trask’s mushy score soothes the blows. The movie pulls the rug out from under the audience several times, but in the end there is not much underneath.”

…There’s Also Been Significant Praise For Match

Glenn Kenny, rogerebert.com: “Gugino’s role has the least combustible elements although in a sense it’s the most difficult: she has to convince as both a sharp grad student and a somewhat squelched, frustrated wife. And she does. This is hardly a world-shaker of a movie but it is a well-constructed and thoughtful character study brought to vivid life by its players.”

Peter Debruge, Variety: “Without sacrificing the piece‘s warm comic undertones, this minimally adapted theatrical piece remains richer and far more thought-provoking than a typical night at the movies…”

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