For his first film, writer/director Austin Chick decided to launch a preemptive strike against the inevitable barrage of bad reviews for XX/YY. One of the main characters is a director who made a film some years back that people hated. They just didn't understand it, so they were wrong and he was right. Somebody even has the gall to come and ask for his money back, and the director says that he doesn't get much of the revenues from tickets, in a way deflecting his own culpability in the mess. Well, XX/YY is one of those films that purports to be about people and relationships, but it has very little to say, and is even less interesting to watch. The people in it are shallow and dull, and because Chick focuses so completely on the tension, sexual and otherwise, between them, he leaves no room for any discernible story. XX/XY begins nearly a decade ago, when Coles Burroughs (Mark Ruffalo, View From the Top, Windtalkers), an animator, meets Sam (Maya Strange, In a Savage Land, Head On), a Sarah Lawrence student.

The attraction is immediate, and Sam's friend Thea (Kathleen Robertson, I Am Sam, Scary Movie 2) joins in with them in a wild threesome. The next morning finds them redefining their roles, and Sam and Coles hook up while Thea feels a little snubbed. The problem is that Coles wants to live for the moment, and doesn't necessarily think through all his decisions, leading to some spectacular fights between them. Although it is the 1990s, Coles embodies the spirit of free love prevalent in the 60s, a spirit that Sam and Thea seem to sometimes share. Sam is the most rational, and Thea is also wild because, uh, she dresses like it and whoops a lot. The entire situation is a powder keg waiting to explode, and it does. However, this leaves no room for resolution.

The film then jumps to the present, when Coles meets Sam by accident. It turns out that Sam is also speaking with Thea again, and the three come together to catch up on old times and allow for Chick to pretend to have something to say about the entire affair. Thea is now a productive woman; her husband owns a restaurant named after her. Coles works in advertising, and has been living with Claire (Petra Wright, The Sleep Cure, Seven and a Match), but emotionally is still in the same place he was a decade ago. Unfortunately for Wright, Claire is thin on character. She is the same beautiful yet distant woman all these men fall for. She acts like an ice queen, and Coles will inevitably discover that his feelings for Sam are still extremely strong. Sam still feels the same, so they are going down a different dangerous path.

One of the main deficiencies in Chick's script is that all the characters are so flat. Aside from their connection to each other, there is no reason for their existence. He did try to flesh out Coles' life in advertising, but those scenes feel more like failed comic relief than anything else. A story like this has themes used in countless other movies, and the lack of character fails to differentiate XX/XY from the other films. If anything, Coles, Sam, and Thea become more than a little annoying after a while. There are endless "deep" conversations between them, trying to figure out their emotions, and it's all so very dull.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 31 minutes, Rated R for sexuality, language, and brief drug use.

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