(Breakfast with Curtis was shown as part of the Rhode Island International Film Festival)
They're few movies that I've desperately wanted to enjoy more than Rhode Island director Laura Colella's community based comedy Breakfast with Curtis, a movie about the generally easygoing relationship between two affable neighboring homes; one a large purple house filled with pot smoking eccentrics, and the other a now reformed hippie couple with an extremely awkward 14 year old son. There isn't any conflict or danger involved, no sudden twists, or any real plot. In fact, only for a single shot does Colella show the world outside the friendly block. It's the cinematic equivalent of sitting out on the porch on a hot day, and drinking a nice glass of cool lemonade. For the relatively short 84 minute runtime, you're simply relaxing with some quirky, newly found friends. And while I certainly enjoyed their company, once the film ends, you're unfortunately left with the mediocre feeling of "That's it?".
The entire film seems to function in what would normally be considered to be the first act of a regular movie. Characters are introduced throughout without being referenced again, ideas for a conclusion are implied but never acted upon, and nothing ever seems to actually happen; just a setup for nothing. In an odd way, it reminded me of genre and tonal opposite Panos Cosmatos' sci-fi/horror Beyond the Black Rainbow in how conventional "setup-conflict-resolution" is ignored in favor of developing an alternate environment for the audience to temporarily inhabit. For Cosmatos, it's the surreal nightmarish Arboria facility, and in the Colella's feature, it's an overly charming suburban Providence street. In both examples, it's more of an existing, though fictional atmosphere than an actual linear story.
Colella has created a fully functioning mini-universe for her movie to settle in, but unfortunately despite a charismatic and charming cast, there simply isn't enough of anything. No character development, no plot, no suspense, no drama, no conflict; but there's enough goodwill from the director and crew that I'm interested in whatever they do next. Given a script with more substance (or after writing a script with more substance, as Colella served as the film's writer as well), she could do great things, and I'll be first in line when it arrives in theaters fully formed. I really, really wanted to like this movie, but there're just too many flaws to formally recommend it.