September 13, 2011

THE BIJOU @ TIFF: “Ten Year”


TEN YEAR, which premiered tonight at the Toronto Film Festival, is one of the few festival movies that has the feel of a potential hit.  This is because, apart from its hugely engaging cast and, to be sure, some effective writing and directing, it’s really not a “film festival” movie at all, but a totally conventional example of quality commercial entertainment–which works (the crowd went wild tonight) in or out of a festival venue.

Ten Year, as its title implies, takes us to one of Hollywood’s most beloved situations:  the high school reunion.  (Beautiful Girls, Romy and Michelle, Zach and Miri, Grosse Point Blank, Something Wild–the list goes on.)  Jamie Linden’s script (he also makes his directing debut) all takes place on the night of the big event, and Linden is not about to reinvent the wheel (his prior scripts include those hugely innovative projects We Are Marshall and Dear John).  Linden knows the satisfactions of multiple plotlines all reaching their predestined closures within the same confined time and space, and he provides them.
So we have the overgrown child-men (Justin Long and Max Minghella) who finally have to grow up and admit some tough truths; the party girl (Lynn Collins) with something to hide; the guy (Channing Tatum) with the perfect girlfriend (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) who can’t bring himself to propose to her until he sees his ex (Rosario Dawson) one more time; the guy who turns into a sloppy drunk (Chris Pratt) and has to be taken care of by his responsible, loving wife (Ari Graynor), et al.  And let’s not forget the swooniest crowd-pleaser of all (I should insert a mild spoiler warning here, for those who have never seen a movie before):  the guy who wrote the hit single (Oscar Isaac) and re-meets his old high school pal (Kate Mara) at the reunion, but somehow she’s never even once heard his song until he sings it that night, and can you guess who the song turns out to be about?
It’s easy to be cynical about all this, and certainly Ten Year would be a better film if it dared to risk something–anything–with an unfamiliar plot twist.  But conventions work for a reason, and here they’re quite well done.  There’s not a weak link in the cast, which also includes Anthony Mackie, Ron Livingston, Scott Porter, Aubrey Plaza, Aaron Yoo and Brian Geraghty (standouts include Pratt and Graynor, Long, Minghella and Collins, and Isaac and Mara).  And while as a director, Linden is far from a visual stylist, he’s got a fine ability to juggle half a dozen storylines in 100 minutes and have all the stories come out pleasingly. (The editor, who was probably instrumental in making this come together, is Jake Pushinsky, who’s worked a lot with Dito Montiel–probably not coincidentally, so has Channing Tatum, who is a producer as well as a star of this picture, and who starred in Linden’s Dear John script.  The movie business is a small, small world.)
Ten Year is a movie that gives plenty of predictable laughs and sentiment, and that’s not to be underrated–damn few Hollywood movies each year pull it off.  It’s the kind of picture that, if you happen to notice it on cable 10 years from now, you’ll tune in just for a few minutes and end up sticking with it to the end yet again.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."