Skirting the negativity surrounding the current state of rom-coms after reviewing genre classic Notting Hill yesterday, it’s worth having a look at one of the better examples of today’s film-makers attempting to reboot the ailing genre. Writer, director, producer and star Joshua M Lester’s romantic comedy About Pie may be small fry compared to the big-money blockbusters around, but it’s got a slight charm that makes it well worth a recommend; right now, honest films about normal life feel like a holiday from the grim reality on our doorsteps.
Billed as ‘The Pie Guy’ Lester plays a man who is looking for love; the Pie Guy has figured out a cheap and cheerful way to sort out the sheep from the goats when it comes to identifying a potential partner. Rather than dinner and a movie, he’s offering a shared slice of pie, figuring that he can tell a lot about a lady from her taste in food, and that buying a series of pie slices for potential forever partners shouldn’t break the bank as quickly as anything more lavish.
Over regular visits to his therapist (Colette Freeman, a neat performance getting the tone and role of a therapist correct for once), the Pie Guy realises that his efforts are telling him as much about himself as his potential partners. From a tall Goth to a much fancied-friend, the Pie Guy seems to have no shortage of options, but is he really ready for a relationship? Or is playing video-games with his best buds and re-hashing Return of the Jedi where he’s actually at?
Although there’s a sub-plot about the Pie Guy’s aging father, About Pie steers clear of melodrama and settles for something more genial. Lester’s film reminded me of another assured debut, Whit Stillman’s Metropolitan in capturing a young man’s search for belonging, but nailing down his quest with gentle, pawky humour. Artfully shot on various LA locations, About Pie goes down easily, and generates genuine laughs and pathos that most contrived studio product can only dream of.
Watching low-budget film can often feel like a trial, but technology means that a good simple story can sing in today’s streaming world. With a capable cast, a sunny outlook and some wry observations on life and love, About Pie should be commended as alternative viewing for those frustrated by the impersonality of much of today’s cinema; it’s a charming slice of life that offers some welcome home-baked flavour.
Links and trailer below;