dot the i
2003, R, 92 min. Directed by Matthew Parkhill. Starring Gael García Bernal, Natalia Verbeke, James D'Arcy, Tom Hardy, Charlie Cox.
REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., June 17, 2005
We’re told in the course of this film that a kiss "dots the i" in the word love. Well, that’s not true in English, which is the language spoken in the London-set movie. Neither is it true in Spanish, which is the native language spoken by the film’s lead Carmen (Verbeke). Nor is it true in Portuguese, which is the language that’s native to the film’s male lead, Kit (Bernal). It’s not a big deal and I don’t want to belabor the point, it’s just that this example strikes me as typical of the labyrinthine dot the I: so in love with its own inventions and convolutions that it ignores all plausibility and audience acceptance. To share the details of the plot twists here would certainly ruin any chance of enjoying the experience of watching it. However, most of the twists don’t occur until the second half, at which point they accumulate with a mad vengeance. Until then, dot the I is a perfectly interesting little love story, even though the character name Carmen (she’s a dancer too) is a good tip-off of tragedy to come. A Spaniard with a vaguely referred-to past who now lives in London, Carmen has agreed to marry her wealthy boyfriend, Barnaby (D’Arcy). But at a hen party at a restaurant with her girlfriends, she kisses Kit (don’t ask) and what should have lasted mere seconds goes on and on and on. Now she’s having doubts about her upcoming nuptials, and she and Kit meet on the sly, but still he fails in his attempt to pull a Graduate at her wedding. From this point on, the love triangle has more sides than it knows what to do with. Parkhill films it all with a rock & roll panache: lots of flash edits, temporal jumps, and jittery camerawork. Yet it just adds to the film’s overall sense of contrivance. The actors are all good, although not much rapport is conveyed, despite one hot sex scene. Made in 2003, dot the I is Bernal’s first English-language film, and would probably have gone straight to video by now if Bernal’s star weren’t on such an upswing. Fame, it can be a bitch.