Reviewed at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival.
Ironically, there’s something bold when making a film about an unexceptional life, something that almost dares you as an audience to imagine other stories that are happening beyond the scope of your put-upon protagonist. In “Every Day,” I found myself wondering about the backstory of Carla Gugino’s Robin, a sexy producer of a risqué TV show called “Mercy Medical” who thrives on a diet of sushi (“brain food”) and casual drug use and lives in a glass-encased loft that overlooks the city.
Sadly, Robin isn’t the main character of the film, the feature debut of former “Nip/Tuck” scribe Richard Levine’s — Ned (Liev Schreiber) is, and he’s equally enthralled with Robin’s decadent lifestyle, exclaiming as he treads water in her Olympic-sized pool, “I am now officially covered in your life.” Oh, if only.
Despite the fact that both seem to be on similar financial footing as writers on the same TV show, Ned is forced to dry off and trudge back to his home in the ‘burbs where his wife (Helen Hunt) silently sobs and stews over taking care of her infirm and verbally abusive father (Brian Dennehy), his teenage son’s (Ezra Miller) burgeoning homosexuality is giving him headaches, and his younger son (Skyler Fortgang) is constantly asking about all the colorful language being thrown around the house.
There isn’t much more to the film than that, which is both its strength and its weakness. Levine’s obviously put his heart into this and has an ear for lived-in dialogue, but it feels like Schreiber’s considerable gravitas is wasted on indifferent bickering with his wife, as he floats through life unwilling to pick a fight with anyone. Such ambivalence appears to extend to his entire brood, who accept their roles within the family without much quibbling, at least externally.
That could be considered the point of “Every Day” — certainly, Gugino’s temptress is there to shake Ned out of the stupor of domestic routine and introduce him to the otherworldly delights that he’s missed, but as a director, Levine fails at translating that into dramatic tension. When Levine toys with the idea the family is somehow cursed — Dennehy’s cranky grandfather imparts a diagnosis from a former psychiatrist who said, “Happiness, given my family’s history, was an unrealistic expectation,” we’re supposed to disagree as tears well up in his daughter’s eyes, but we don’t, since no one seems to want to change their fate.
Fortunately for the crowd gathered at the film’s world premiere at the BMCC Performing Arts Center, the film’s sedateness didn’t carry over into the lively post-screening Q & A where an eclectic group of audience interrogators brought out some candidness from the cast and crew. A pre-teen boy asked Miller, “Are you really gay [as he is in the film]? Because my sister likes you.” (In response, a poised Miller was unfazed, saying “I’m straight, but not narrow. And I have a girlfriend.”) Likewise, when Hunt began praising her co-star Dennehy by saying, “I’ve known him since I was 17,” Dennehy quickly implored the audience, “Don’t jump to any conclusions!”
The veteran actor noted it was the first time he saw the film and said he was “very impressed,” probably in no small part because the film was shot in a mere 23 days on a shoestring budget; after a man with imperfect English asked an odd question about the choice of cremation in a particular scene, Levine killed with a faux-desperate line, “Because we didn’t have enough money for a casket.”
Schreiber, acknowledging his wife Naomi Watts in the audience, said he agreed with the missus’ observation that the heart of Levine’s script was what drew him to the film as well as the chance to play a father, but added, “it’s a simple story and simple stories are often overlooked.” The unfortunate part of “Every Day” is it doesn’t do enough to stand out.
“Every Day” is currently without U.S. distribution.
[Photos: “Every Day,” Ambush Entertainment, 2010]