The Young Girl And The Monsoon

on May 04, 2001 by Jordan Reed
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   Hey, did anybody know that it's tough to balance our ever-busier professional lives with our personal ones, especially when kids enter the picture? Hank (Terry Kinney), the focal point of James Ryan's transparent, mysteriously-titled directorial debut "The Young Girl and the Monsoon," seems about to keel over from the burden. A prestigious photojournalist, he precariously juggles his career, his responsibility to his moody, divorce-scarred daughter Constance (Ellen Muth) and his year-long romance with the lovely young Erin (Mili Avital). And, wouldn't you know it, sometimes he drops the ball.

   Screenwriter James Ryan is also a playwright, and his film suffers from that vocational influence. It's incessantly verbose, so stuffed with explanation and exposition it's as if Ryan finds the idea of even the most basic visual expression unwarranted. (Save when Constance catches Hank dancing around the apartment late one night, in a scene unfortunately reminiscent of that school-for-the-blind ballet performance from an old Saturday Night Live skit.) And if making a movie that so heavily relies on conversation, for God's sake don't scrimp on the sound equipment. At numerous times throughout, dialogue is too muffled to understand.

   Less egregious but quite baffling was Ryan's casting choice for the 13-year-old Constance. Muth, who must have been at least 17 when she took the role (production notes say she's currently 19), does her darndest to act immature and sulky a la early adolescence, but physically she's powerless against her far more advanced hormones. The result is cloying inaccuracy; in her defense, Muth's task is insurmountable, the age gap too substantial to pull off.

   "The Young Girl And The Monsoon" provides no valuable insight on the trials and tribulations of modern life and relationships. Actually, that's not quite true: the Tom Waits song "Better Off Without A Wife," played during the closing credits, does a better job doing so in three minutes than rest of the film does in almost an hour and a half. Starring Terry Kinney, Ellen Muth and Mili Avital. Directed and written by James Ryan. An Artistic License release. Romantic comedy. Not yet rated. Running time: 90 min

Tags: Terry Kinney, Ellen Muth, Mili Avital, James Ryan, Artistic License release. Romantic comedy
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