VIDEO “The Souler Opposite” is Desperate for Love

There’s a movie at your local video store right now that features two male leads who sit around discussing love, sex, and life in general. They particularly focus on the complicated love life of one of these men, whose inability to settle into a solid relationship has doomed him to a single life of unhappiness. The movie is driven by dialogue, clever and interesting.

But enough about “Clerks,” let’s get on to “The Souler Opposite.”

To say that Bill Kalmenson’s debut film “The Souler Opposite” is heavy-handed would be overly generous. For example, when the lead characters are established as teenagers, the unlucky-in-love hero peers at a centerfold through a magnifying glass and is horrified to find that she has a stretch mark.

I wonder if this character is too critical? It’s very subtle.

It only gets worse from there. “The Souler Opposite” is, as the movie’s tag line proclaims, “a romantic mockery.” It wants desperately to be a witty romantic comedy, driven by characters who feel like real people and endear themselves to the audience. Kalmenson has obviously spent a little too much time with his Woody Allen video collection, with occasional side trips into “When Harry Met Sally.”

To top of this train wreck, Christopher Meloni plays our protagonist as a character much less interesting than his more famous role as Detective Stabler on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” and much less endearing than his portrayal of convict Chris Keller on HBO’s “Oz.”

To Kalmenson‘s credit, “The Souler Opposite” is well-directed, with a good sense of timing and a natural flow to accompany the progression of events. If someone else had written this movie and he had just directed it, it would have been fine. Mr. Kalmenson, please, let the scripts come to you. We’ll be waiting, not watching “The Souler Opposite.”

“The Souler Opposite” (1998)Written and Directed by Bill KalmensonStarring Christopher Meloni and Janel MoloneyBuffalo Jump Productions