Loving Jezebel

Loving Jezebel is the uneven debut film from writer/director Kwyn Bader. It mainly falters because of its concept, a man who falls in love only with women who are involved with other men. If Bader removed that little gimmick, the movie would flow better and make a little more sense, as well as being a little more funny. Otherwise, the movie is a nice first effort, congenial in every aspect except for the main character's habit of dating taken women. Loving Jezebel is basically a look at the life of Theodorus Melville (Hill Harper, Beloved, In Too Deep) and his many loves.

Melville is really two people. The first is an annoying neurotic nerd who seems to pester women until they go out with him. This side of him is more creepy than annoying. The other Melville is a slick, suave gentleman who loves Charlie Parker and can quote William Faulkner. His clothing style also manages to change from Erkel to GQ. It's hard to see how the two can come together, and this is the main fault of the character. The fact that Melville always falls for women with boyfriends and husbands seems secondary. He is resigned to this fact, yet, he is not always the person falling in love. Bader's script has women falling in love with him more often than not. They initiate the relationship with him, and he merely reciprocates. They usually hide the fact they are currently in a relationship.

But wow, those women sure are beautiful. They include Frances (Nicole Ari Parker, Remember the Titans, 200 Cigarettes), an actor he met in college, Mona (Sandrine Holt, My West, 1999), a sexy woman from Trinidad, and Samantha (Laurel Holloman, Committed, Tumbleweeds). According to Melville, she is the only one who truly reciprocates his feelings. He wants so much to fall in love and commit, while everyone except Samantha wants only something transitory. Samantha adores him. She is sweet, a little ditzy, and, of course, married. Holloman is storming her way through a wide variety of roles in small movies, and does another good job here. She seems so at ease here, radiating innocence, simpleness, and warmth. It's odd that Samantha is so eager to cheat on her husband. One nice thing about Loving Jezebel is Bader's blind eye towards interracial relationships. It does not matter to Melville what color his current girlfriend is, and it shouldn't matter to this movie. Adding a racial element would change the general tone of the movie, making it darker and not as fun as Bader wants it to be.

Bader's efforts as a screenwriter are not bad. The dialogue between Melville and Samantha is nice, the rest is kind of flat. This is mostly because the other women in Melville's life are not fully realized. They seem to have one special trait about them that Bader parades until they become annoying. Melville's character is also alternately annoying and endearing. It's hard believing that he has a problem attracting "normal" women. He was shy and awkward as a child, but outgrew it once college finished. As an adult, Harper's performance is very genteel. He is always trying to do the right thing, although it never quite happens. Again, it's the basic premise of Loving Jezebel that dumbs the movie down. Removing would not improve it that much, but it would seem a little more fun.

Mongoose Rates It: Okay.
1 hour, 25 minutes, Rated R for language and sexuality.

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