It begins with part one, titled “The Brothers Karamazov”, and takes place at a quiet Chicago bar. In the back sits Delaney (played by the lovely and enigmatic Clare Cooney), a woman working on her dissertation, and enjoying time to herself. Paul (Kevin Wehby) enters with little care on his mind and figures since they are the only two in the joint, they should strike up a conversation. The engagement turns into a bit more than just silly banter, but a discussion about great works of literature, and a friendly game of “strip Brothers Karamazov”. The Dostoevsky novel is clearly a piece of work that Paul knows the bare minimum about and he finds himself quickly without clothes. The conversation between these two is more than just a titillating venture, but an adorable interaction of two adults, maneuvering for position in a romantic game of cat and mouse. There's a few laughs, two strong performances, and a lot to love from the start.
Part two is a literal leisurely stroll, titled “Cats and Dogs”. It involves a loving couple- Rob (Matthew Scherbach) and Andy (Rashaad Hall), who take a walk around the Rogers Park neighborhood. On the surface, the second part is the most reserved of the three segments, but it is in this part where Glover Smith's voice and tender side shines. During the brisk walk, these two see various dogs and neighbors that they know, greeting the pooches with gentle awe's, and in-between each stop, sharing worries and cares about their relationship together. I found great peace in this segment, which reminded me of Richard Linklater's Before Sunset. In the moment, it feels like a moment void from reality, a world where beautiful love exists, those who pass by are kind, and Smith knows to keep focus on two characters that hope the moment will last forever.
The final sequence is the climactic bang of the film and appropriately titled “The End is the Beginning”. It starts with Julie (Nina Ganet) catching her boyfriend Wyatt (Shane Simmons) cheating on her in their apartment and quickly Wyatt's kicked out with his stuff thrown onto the street. The anger that pours from Julie is justified, but if you think Glover Smith is just showing how easily love can be torn apart, he stops on a dime and let's Julie get the final say. In what was my favorite part, Ganet engages in a fourth-wall breaking monologue, that is often powerful, poetic, and a fantastic breakout scene for Ganet. The actors presence alone is a statement considering she played the lead role in Smith's debut film Cool Apocalypse, which brings things full-circle, and delivers more proof that Ganet is a fantastic actor.
Rendezvous in Chicago is a delightful film, highlighting a plethora of young, rising stars of the Chicago cinema scene, and another big success for director Michael Glover Smith. If there are any complaints it would be that there's not enough material, because I left wanting so much more. I wondered if Michael Glover Smith was challenging himself as much as he should be, but I also appreciated that a director this good was continuing to spread his artistic wings. Either way, Rendezvous in Chicago is a pleasant diversion from the mundane and cements that Michael Glover Smith is one of Chicago's premiere auteurs working today.
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: RENDEZVOUS IN CHICAGO
STARRING: CLARE COONEY; KEVIN WEHBY; NINA GANET; RASHAAD HALL
DIRECTED BY: MICHAEL GLOVER SMITH
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The third film in director Michael Glover Smith's young career of may not be his greatest accomplishment, but it certainly catapults him into full auteur status. The Chicago directors first two films, Cool Apocalypse and Mercury in Retrograde (my favorite!) captured the complexities of relationships, both new or old, and in his own unique way, through the inspiration of the world that surrounds his characters. Rendezvous in Chicago is a 3-part vignettes style film, shot in various locations in the Windy City, with each segment capturing the high's and low's of love. It may be a bit of an exercise in flexing the directorial muscles, but Glover Smith has gathered a top-notch cast and made another delightful cinematic getaway. Rendezvous in Chicago is the perfect escape.